P&O Cruises is a very British cruise line catering to the tastes and desires of Brits.
Launched in 2015 and named by Queen Elizabeth II, Britannia is currently the largest ship in the fleet and can accommodate 3,647 passengers and 1,350 crewmembers.
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Even though the construction took place in Monfalcone, Italy, by Fincantieri, the family-friendly ship showcases the best of P&O Cruises and the best of British.
The ship boasts 13 restaurants and cafés, seven entertainment venues, over ten places to relax and unwind, plus 13 different bars.
Britannia is not the largest cruise ship in the world, but she is larger than many. While the size may daunt initially, it does mean that the cruise line truly can offer something for everybody. From cookery clubs, restaurants, and bars, to kids clubs, pool areas, and a spa and fitness suite, Britannia caters for all tastes.
Getting around the ship is relatively easy, although lifts do not always access all decks. Lifts are exceptionally busy at peak times, such as disembarkation, so use the stairs if you can.
The ship caters for children from six months old. I took my two-year-old on board, and he loved every minute. The staff loves interacting with children. The kids club are fairly unique in the cruise world as they accept children as young as two years old free-of-charge. Most other cruise lines I have sailed on charge for children’s care for those aged under three.
The ship caters perfectly to those travelling without kids too. With a variety of dining and entertainment venues on offer, there is plenty to do. The ship gears towards offering outstanding culinary experiences, and the Cookery Club is an unmissable experience. Learn essential cookery skills from the resident chefs and create dishes devised by TV chef James Martin. He also hosts selected masterclasses throughout the year.
The ship is also a floating art museum. The 8,000-piece collection is valued at £1 million and features a variety of pieces from British artists. For the largest painting you just need to look at the hull. At 94 metres in length, it is believed to be the largest contemporary impression of the Union Flag of its kind. It took 420 litres of red and blue paint to create.
Britannia Deck Plan
The lowest passenger-accessible area is Deck 5. At the front of the ship is the Oasis Spa, unusually for a cruise ship located low down. It is unfortunate that it sits directly beneath the main theatre. I did not have the chance to enjoy a spa treatment so do not know if sounds from rehearsals above interfere with the relaxation below.
The Limelight Club sits opposite the reception desk, and a small shop is tucked to the side, stocking a range of P&O branded merchandise.
The corridor opens out to the three-deck-tall Atrium. A Starburst artwork is the centrepiece to this inviting space. Designed as the heart of the ship, I did find myself gravitating back here regularly during the sailing.
The atrium makes way for the Meridian Restaurant, one of two main dining rooms that offer flexible Freedom Dining between 6 pm and 9.30pm.
The front of Deck 6 is home to the Headliner’s Theatre, a large space with plenty of seating. The entrance to this Theatre feels more like a football stadium where players walk along a dark corridor into the electric atmosphere of the arena.
Brodie’s Pub sits next to the Casino, and both make way for shopping boutiques. These small outlets line the first tier of the Atrium. Behind the Atrium is the Peninsular Restaurant, the second flexible dining room. At the aft of the deck is the Oriental Restaurant, a set dining time venue with options at 6.30 pm or 8.30 pm. A quirk of the construction means that this restaurant is not accessible from the front or mid parts of Deck 6. Instead, head up to Deck 7 to the rear stairwell and drop down one floor into the restaurant.
Deck 7 is the last of the numbered decks. The double-height Headliner’s Theatre occupies the fore of this deck. The elegant Crystal room with its ballroom dance floor sits behind it, with a small bar beside it. The top tier of the Atrium is home to the Java café and The Glass House, a bar themed by wine guru Olly Smith. The future cruise loyalty desk occupies one corner.
A walk through the photo gallery leads to The Studio, a multipurpose entertainment venue. Two Michelin Starred chef Atul Kochhar’s Sindhu restaurant and bar follows, ahead of the Live Lounge.
Decks then follow a series of letters. Letters A to G denoted the next eight decks, and these are exclusively devoted to cabins. Each floor has a laundrette towards the rear of the deck.
The Lido Deck is home to a small number of cabins towards the front of the vessel. The Crow’s Nest bar is here, along with a small and dark library, the Marlow and Ivory Suites for functions, and gastronomic restaurant, The Epicurean.
The Lido Deck unsurprisingly hosts the Lido area with two pools surrounded by a pizzeria, the Lido Bar, the Lido Grill, an ice cream counter, the Grab & Go food option, and the Riviera Bar. Inside is the Horizons buffet restaurant. In the evening part of this becomes the Beach House serving an American style menu. The Sunset Bar is tucked right at the very rear of the ship.
The Sun Deck boasts The Retreat at the front, which requires a pass to access. It is an adult sanctuary equipped with a pair of hot tubs. The Serenity Pool and Bar sit behind this and are quiet areas. A hollow area is beyond with views down to the Lido Deck, and a hot tub on either side.
A space for classic deck games follows, ahead of the area dedicated to children. The Reef is P&O Cruises’ kids club programme, and there are four groups (Splashers, Surfers, Scubas and H2O) for different age groups between two and 17 years old. Each has a dedicated room, as does the paid-for nursery for children aged under two. The Terrace Pool and chill out area sits behind for teenagers.
Opposite the kids club is the gym, aerobics studio, and the Cookery Club studio. It is an odd location for the cookery studio, but the views from the floor-to-ceiling windows are unparalleled.
The Sports Deck splits into two at the very top of the ship. At the front the deck caters to those looking to sunbathe. A promenade wraps around the rear part of the deck that surrounds the funnels. Behind the funnel stack is the sports court, a bar, and golf nets.
If you are a cruise ship buff or mechanically minded then check out these vital statistics for Britannia:
- Length: 330 metres
- Width: 44 metres
- Height: 70.67 metres
- Draft: 8.3 metres
- Gross Tonnage: 143,730 gross registered tonnes (GRT)
- Cruising Speed: 21.9 Knots
- Power: two Wärtsilä 12V46F plus two Wärtsilä 14V46F
- Cabins: 1,837
- Passenger capacity: 4,324
- Crew capacity: 1,398
While Britannia sounds like a large vessel, she is extremely easy to get around. Offering a wide variety of food, drink, and entertainment options means there is something for everyone onboard.
Read more in this series
- Getting to Southampton Port
- P&O Cruises Britannia Review (you are here)
- P&O Cruises Britannia Cabins
- Food & Drink on P&O Cruises Britannia
- Entertainment on P&O Cruises Britannia
- Visiting Guernsey on a Sunday
- Guernsey Mini Cruise Review on P&O Cruises’ Britannia