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Family cruise on Britannia

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    Family cruise on Britannia

    I have put this on the reviews section - but i know some of you guys spend more/most of you time here rather than there so have 'pasted' it here too... hope it helps:-
    So our 'family group' of 11 folk (Grandparents, Parents and 5 kids) have just returned from our annual cruise - this time on Britannia around the Bay of Biscay (POC - St Peter Port, La Coruna, Bilbao and La Rochelle over 7 nights).

    Being so 'new' Britannia presents herself beautifully. The fixtures, fittings and furnishings all bright and shiny (as they should be). The public spaces, lounges, restaurants and bars all have been designed well. The sun-decks and around the pools also been pulled together thoughtfully... my sister in law summed the pool area up perfectly saying "it feels like being at an LA Beach Club"...

    Our main 'concern' with cruising is that the kids are happy (as all parents know, if the kids aren't happy then no-one gets a good holiday!!). No need for concern on Britannia at all !! Our five were 2, 8,9,9 and 11 years old so were spread across a number of the Reef clubs... all of them had an absolute blast from start to finish. The facilities on offer to kids (in the clubs) are amazing... the technology, activities and games is like something out of a kids dream (well - for ours at least it was!!). The kids club workers were brilliant with both parents and kids alike. the activity plan was wide and varied with a decent amount of 'downtime' built into the day so the kids don't get too frazzled by COP.

    Food and drink was as you'd expect from P&O... pretty good standard all round. We dined in the Meridian restaurant (Freedom dining) and managed to get looked after at the same table each night so developed a great relationship with our waiters.... we dined in Sindhu on one evening which was also good. Also had a lunch in the Glass House which was brilliant - probably the stand-out meal of the whole cruise in fact (the salt & pepper prawns were exquisite)

    On-board facilities were brilliant... the Gym is quite simply one of the best i have ever seen (on land or water!). The cinema is a bonus and the theatre is made all the more amazing with the LED backdrops... these made the shows a very different spectacle to those on the other P&O ships we have tried.

    Ports of call wise we didn't bother with St PP (been there numerous times and couldn't be bothered with the queues for the tenders), had a wander around La Coruna, walking up to the Aquarium which was good (approx 40 mins walk from port each way). From Bilbao we did an excursion to Hondarribia and San Sebastien (the latter was brilliant - if i was to go again i would just get the bus there and 'do my own thing'). La Rochelle disappointed somewhat - seemed very 'tatty' to when i was last there. It was really, really busy so everywhere was mobbed. Also we had to endure a 40 minute shuttle ride (on a bendy-bus, standing room only). None of these are - of course - the fault of La Rochelle, it just didn't tick many boxes for us!!

    We had a balcony cabin which was very nice. Bathroom felt a little smaller than other ships - but the showers were good and you had all you need. Couldn't help but notice that there seemed to be a little less storage space (wardrobes etc.) but we managed all ok. We had two of our three kids in with us - one on the converted sofa and the other in the pullman bed that came down from the ceiling... all slept like logs!!

    There were some negatives I am afraid to say... embarkation and disembarkation very poor (massive queues at Southampton but also when trying to get on and off the boats in ports)... shuttle buses in La Rochelle were few and far between and not great for anyone with mobility issues. Queues for tenders in St PP were large (my sister-in-law waited an hour to get off ship!!). The balconies are a lot smaller than on other ships - don't go expecting to stretch-out much on them!! then, of course, i have to mention the much maligned lifts on-board. madness not having stairways mid-ships - it seems to be a case of permanently waiting for a lift and when one does come it's full....i was not alone in noticing this and lost of very 'grumpy' people always milling around the lift-lobby areas!!! The perennial issue of 'finding a sun lounger' on a hot-day prevails - the 'adult only' pool we found to be particularly busy every day.

    So in summary:-

    Britannia is big and beautiful.... it is very big to get about on - be prepared. We were at the front of the ship and the kids clubs (for example) at the stern making each drop-off and pick up a bit of a hike...that said - quite useful if you enjoy the wonderful food on offer!!. Being new she is in fine fettle and well worth getting on board soon. The staff (as we have always found with P&O) are wonderful and friendly - particularly if you take the time to have a chat with them - their service was impeccable. Being the size she is, with the number of passengers on board, it may be one to avoid if you get stressed or grumpy due to queuing (lifts, gangways, shuttles, tenders etc.etc). We just 'took a chill pill' and reminded ourselves how fortunate we were to be on holiday rather than letting it get to us (unlike many others we had to endure!!)

    Rule Britannia and all that

    :-).

    #2
    Sounds as if you had a great time!

    Bill


    Lawnmowerman

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      #3
      Love the review and a great time was had by all, P&O seem to be playing around with embarkation at Southampton, and from the reports I have seen since this started, is its just not working...
      Delboy


      Photo Albums

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        #4
        I'm glad you all enjoyed it, I loved Britannia and hope to go on her again some day .................................................. ....Carol

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          #5
          great review well done

          Comment


            #6
            Thanks for putting your review on here, it was interesting to read about Britannia. It's always fun to cruise with the family, glad you all enjoyed it..............HT

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              #7
              Originally posted by Delboy, Essex View Post
              ...P&O seem to be playing around with embarkation at Southampton, and from the reports I have seen since this started, is its just not working...
              Nice review thanks.

              The cruise terminals are too small, with not check-in enough desks, X-ray machines and seating to cope with today's megaships. Even Southampton's roads struggle at times. They were all built for ships half Britannia's size.
              See my cruise blog: HERE

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Malcolm, Essex View Post
                Nice review thanks.

                The cruise terminals are too small, with not check-in enough desks, X-ray machines and seating to cope with today's megaships. Even Southampton's roads struggle at times. They were all built for ships half Britannia's size.

                The terminals are too small for the biggest ships. The computers for the check-in desks are provided by the ships, which carry them with them and the cruise line decides how many security bays will be used.

                Anthem of the Seas struggles with City Terminal and Harmony of the Seas will be in next year - even bigger. In Barcelona, they used two terminals for Oasis so how will City fare with Harmony?...........HT

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                  #9
                  Thanks or the great review, I am hoping to try Britannia soon she certainly seems to fit the bill
                  sigpic

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Very good review Martin.

                    So many reviewers get obsessed by a small niggle that seems to have ruined their entire holiday.

                    Glad you had a good time.

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                      #11
                      Hi Martin, interesting read and a good review. Last time I went to La Rochelle, we had to queue for a very long time too and I found it difficult; so few buses and had to stand when we caught one,which was an endurance for me with a spinal condition. I wonder of it is a regular occurrence there now

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Hi Martin thanks for your review very informative.I do like P&O but do feel that the on board facilities on Britannia don't really compare well with rival lines.My kids when young loved the kids clubs, but once they hit teenage years they wanted more things they could do on their own like a climbing wall water slides etc.Britannia strikes me as following the P&O model ,but competing against ships that are very different and have more options for older families.I know others won't agree but as you say- keep the kids happy.I was disappointed when the took away Cirque Ventura to make more sunbed space,so was my daughter as they did it just before we went on board!
                        Embarkation and Disembarkation needs sorting,these problems have existed for years.Similarly with tendering.We were at Guernsey a few years back on Oceana and the queues were terrible,a much smaller ship too!So many people complained, that they contracted large pleasure craft locally to help out.They should do that as standard, but I've got a good idea why they don't ..

                        Comment


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