We booked P&O Britannia B617 (Norwegian Fjords) as our honeymoon cruise and decided to also do B618 (Guernsey) so friends could join us for the final two nights.
Take a look at our video of P&O Britannia below
We have done several short cruises before, so knew what to expect from P&O but after reading the reviews for Britannia we were slightly worried, but prepared to make the most of it. I’ll base this review mostly on the main cruise and will touch on the differences we noticed between B617 and B618 at the end.
Embarkation & Disembarkation (and Change over day)
We arrived earlier than we were supposed to and it was busy in Ocean Terminal. We were given our lettered card and sat patiently waiting to be called, check in was smooth and efficient as was security. We still managed to get on before our allotted time – as P&O say they are not going to make you wait but will give priority to those that turn up early. So far so good.
Change over day we just collected our new cruise cards from reception and had a wonder around the ship – by midday everything was open as normal again, so that wasn’t too bad. We also didn’t have to do Muster Drill again either – bonus!
First impressions of the ship
Wow! We loved the décor and the star burst in the atrium was amazing – everything so clean and fresh. Many say there appears to be no atmosphere in the atrium – but we don’t agree with that, we loved it! We also found the ship quite easy to navigate considering its size.
The lack of mid-ship stairs didn’t really bother us too much as we were close to the forward ones. The lifts are another story, or should I say the people using them! People would not look at which direction the lift was going and would get in one to go up and come back down, or worse still, give up and get out early or give up waiting and the lift would then stop for no reason. We did try to avoid them but sometimes its nice to be lazy.
The pools were all open and clean, the main pool area was always busy, the quiet zone was a bit better.
There were loads of sunbeds but I could imagine the best ones would fill up quick on a sea day somewhere hot and sunny.
The aft decks were dirty and sooty even though they were cleaning them often – this is the only let down we could really find. There were flakes of soot – thankfully it was not an area we needed to visit often, just when having a little walk. I hope P&O have plans to resolve this somehow..?!
We were in F104 (F/9th deck, forward, HE grade, Balcony with Shower but without sofa).
The cabin was light and airy, with good décor. There was a large TV, one bedside cabinet and tea and coffee making facilities. The hairdryer was nice and powerful and the fridge did a good job at keeping our wine cool.
The balconies were apmle for us – smaller than other ships but we could both comfortably sit out there. It had 2 chairs and a table with divider doors each side that could be opened if you also had the cabin next door.
There was lots of hanging space and a further cupboard with the safe in it between the bathroom and bedroom.
They have the new lifejackets that have a strap that go between your legs, so practice before you go down to muster!
The bathroom was clean and the shower was great too – with the glass door. The shower is bigger than our cube shower at home!
Our cabin steward was Ayjay who worked hard and always had our room made up when we were out, brought us clean wine glasses daily and even organised things like an ice bucket and extra Champagne glasses for us when we had friends coming onboard. Staff you would walk past in the hall always gave a hello and were friendly.
We did find there was some vibrations during docking and also when the anchor was being dropped, but this was expected and as we were always up around 7am this was ok.
We dined in the Epicurean on the first night – the food and service in there was excellent. We also had Eric Lanlards afternoon tea here on a sea day but unfortunately it was far too sweet tasting for us, not something we would do again.
We also tried Atul Kochhar Sindhu, again excellent food and cocktails.
For breakfast we used Room service – this was very good and was delivered on time. We also had the hot breakfast in the MDR, the P&O breakfast was delicious.
Our main dining room was the Meridian, as we were freedom dining we were always given a pager for a table of 2, but by the time we were coming to the end of our drink we were getting called to dinner, perfect timing.
Service and food in there was up to the usual P&O standard, very happy with it. We ventured into the Horizon a few times, could be a bit chaotic in there but the food was good.
Midnight snacks here were also excellent.
Handwashing facilities were operational with maybe only 1 or 2 taps not working but staff were on standby with hand gel or requesting you washed your hands.
We looked at the Grab and Go, the selection looked good but didn’t try it.
The burgers and hot dogs from the Lido Grill were very tasty, we had a lunchtime snack there a few times.
We also enjoyed Afternoon tea in the Oriental – give me a constant supply of tea and I’m happy.
During B617 we ordered 2 platters of Canapés to be delivered after muster on B618 as a welcome to our friends – these were mostly fish based and some of them were huge- tasty and well worth the £11 per platter (each platter served 4).
Bars and Entertainment
We didn’t really go to see shows as they are not really our cup of tea. We did pop our head in the Live Louge to see Badness and the Ventriloquist but they were too hot and busy for us, guess you need to be there early and not 10 minutes after they start as was in our case.
The service in all the bars was excellent, though we did find you often had to ask for a menu, especially in the Crows Nest – no real bother though. I tried to work my way through the Gin menu in the Crows Nest, really liked it up there.
While waiting for our pager to go off we would visit the Blue Bar as this was close by and had a really good feel about it.
Quite a bit of time was spent in the Glass House. We had a few wine flights and food pairings. We also did a wine tasting here with Albert, he was excellent – we don’t know much about wine so we did learn a lot from that midday session. The cost of this was £15 with 5 small glasses of wine and nibbles – about 2 hours long. That night Albert spent time with us talking some more about wine and trying to convert us in to Red wine drinkers (we always stick with the same old white wines) – he was excellent.
A good tip: if you want to try a wine just ask for a taster and they will give you a tiny glass to try it, no need to be scared of trying a new wine there!
Brodies also has a wide selection of Beers for thouse who don’t like the grape.
We took out a spa pass, £199 for both of us for the first 7 nights. Wasn’t worth it to be honest as we could have just had a day pass or two, but saying that had they sold out and not made day passes available (as we have had happen) would have been disappointed.
The facilities within the spar were good, a hydro pool, hot beds, water beds, Sauna, 3 mood showers, a light sauna and a steam room. Only improvement would be maybe complimentary tea and coffee
We spent one day here, £25 per person – after climbing 550m mountain we took full advantage of jacuzzi and bar service.
Snacks and afternoon tea are also available up here. On a summer cruise, I would guess It’s well worth the money to guarantee a sunbed and get away from the busy areas. On our port day, there was less than a dozen of us up there.
Ports of call
Our first port of call after a sea day was Stavanger – and only one word to describe this – wet! We decided we would give the hop on hop off bus a try, after waiting a while due to a Princess ship being in port and everyone having the same idea to avoid the rain, we managed to get a bus with some room. It took us around, but we had the feeling that maybe the driver didn’t really know where he was going, we are sure we went down a one way street the wrong way, but it was a great little adventure.
Waking up as we sailed in to Olden was the most beautiful things we had ever seen – the town its self was tiny. After a gym session we decided to have a walk around, we walked right around to the other side of Olden and got some great shots of the ship. We sat here for an hour or so taking in the fantastic view and as it was sunny, it was bliss!
We were advised this may be a tender port, but that morning, the weather was perfectly calm and we are to use the berth provided. Captain seemed really pleased he was able to dock without having to tender.
I had read about a walk to a spectacular view point called Rampestreken… so we got off the ship early and went on a search for this walk. We weren’t dressed for the occasion and it was quite a hike, maybe we just took the difficult route, but as we neared the top it was definitely worth it! Were virtually had the place to ourselves but as we descended there were lots of people making their way up – lots asking how far till they reached the top 🙂
Further details on this walk can be found at https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g673881-d6835682-Reviews-Rampestreken-Andalsnes_Rauma_Municipality_More_og_Romsdal_Western_Norway.html
Bergen is known for its record rainfall – we were lucky and managed to get back aboard before it arrived, however it cleared by sail away so we could party. We took the shuttle to the port entrance and then walked around a little. We headed to the funicular, joining the wrong queue – woops! After a short while, we noticed we needed to join the other queue which was much shorter. The viewpoint at the top can be seen below, this is a must. We headed back down and headed back to the ship via the fish market.
The second part of our cruise with friends was to Guernsey. After a night enjoying cocktails, we took a very bumpy tender to shore. It was a beautiful day and we spent a couple of hours walking around the streets, it was really busy with lots craft stalls and street entertainment taking place.
All good things come to an end
Now, to finish off, I will return to the back to back aspect of the cruise.
During B617 we had an amazing time and loved the ship, but once on B618 – the atmosphere completely changed. It was a party cruise, so that was expected but you could sense the staff were tired and rushed, they just were not as attentive as they were on the 7 nighter.
The real let down on this was the guests! Stags and Hens, some who had no respect for the staff or ship (c’mon, we even caught some guy about to urinate in the main pool area behind one of the fake leafy walls – think we got his attention quick enough so he didn’t!) – so because of this, we would be weary of doing a 2 night cruise on Britannia again.
Our final thoughts…
Overall, an amazing ship that exceeded our expectations – we would do it again tomorrow if we could! For those that have doubts about Britannia, don’t – just go with an open mind and you will love it!
Update October 2018:
Emma from Cruising Isn’t Just For Old People did her first P&O cruise this summer (2018), it was the exact same cruise as ours – find out her 8 free ‘must do activities’ here