Britannia is the new flagship of the P&O fleet with the distinctive red, white and blue of the Union Flag on her bow. Christened by HM Queen Elizabeth II in March 2015, the £473 million 141,000 tonne, 1,837 cabin ship is the largest ever purpose-built for the British market and is the largest vessel in the P&O fleet. With the ability to carry up to 3,647 passengers in considerable luxury at a cruising speed of 22 knots, the ship has an extremely ‘British vibe’, due to the input of Directory design company, Richmond International who coordinated the interior design. Our visit was made just prior to her maiden cruise around the Mediterranean.The First Impression
We started our tour in the Atrium – the centre of the ship – on Deck 3. The circular Atrium goes up three decks and is dominated by the impressive ‘Starburst’. Here the Starburst, an eight metre high sculpture made of 280 polished aluminium shards, reflects the light from its 320 coloured LEDs around the whole area to provide a special sparkle. There was ample comfortable seating including intimate areas for groups of friends if required. The Market Café delicatessen and the Blue bar (piano bar) could be pleasant areas to meet, eat and drink with friends during the cruise. Also here, a little more hidden away, was the ship’s reception area.
Décor in public areas included marble, chrome, glass, leather and wood grain finish with understated shades of nautical blue and cream along with soft grey, highlighted in gold and silver. All was very reminiscent of a boutique hotel lobby.
The Britannia has 13 restaurants and cafes, some of which are included in the price and some which require an additional charge. In the main restaurants (Meridian, Peninsular and Oriental) the five to six course menus include classic dishes and Marco Pierre White specials on gala nights. P&O has also retained its popular and flexible Freedom dining option, which provides for guests to turn up and dine informally. The alternative is of course Club Dining, which means traditional, fixedtime seating at 6:30 pm or 8:30 pm. Other inclusive dining options include the Lido Grill (steaks, burgers or classic fish and chips), The Pizzeria (fresh pizza all day), Grab & Go (near the main pools – a new concept allowing guests to choose a selection of prepacked snacks, sandwiches or salads to eat informally). Last but not least of the inclusive options is Horizon, the main buffet restaurant that provides meals and snacks 24/7. Horizon has some new options on Britannia including a live cooking station for pancakes, omelettes and noodles, a coffee bar and a superb salad counter.
Other dining options
Fee paying dining is also available based around a range of speciality restaurants and ‘cafes’ from celebrity chefs and culinary experts. These include the Market Café, where master baker Eric Lanlard and renowned cheese expert Charlie Turnbull have chosen a selection of French patisserie, fine cheese, antipasto, charcuterie, tapas and artisan bread; Java, a Coffee shop selling Costa Coffee and overlooking the Atrium; Sindhu, an Asian style restaurant from Michelin starred chef Atul Kochhar; the Glass House, a wine and tapas bar by Wine guru Olly Smith, which includes a tasting room, a dining room and a bar area, all of which use decorative glass in different ways. Finally, The Epicurean is a fine dining restaurant which uses molecular gastronomy with precision temperature cooking to provide contemporary dishes and also provides the backdrop for Eric Lanlard’s special afternoon teas.