Britannia Experience - Day 1 - May 2015
Jim & Julia Wallace – 26-05-2015 – P&O Cruises – Britannia
Weather was grey and dismal as we left Beckingham at a respectable 7.20am on the journey to Southampton. The good news was there were no problems; no road works and we established a new record for the trip. Unfortunately, our arrival at 10.10am seemed to catch the ship by surprise and a nice security man told us we had two options - head back to town or spend £3 in the short stay car park. Still we were only there for 15 minutes before being allowed into the line for embarkation.
Again, no real problems CPS did their usual effective job and the porters had the luggage - all 4 bags into the terminal inside 10 minutes. Then we and a good chunk of the other 1000 priority passengers were in for a little wait. They opened the booking gates at 11.35 and then heading to security to be told the ship was not ready for boarding. Still just after twelve noon, we were first through security and heading towards the Peninsular restaurant for our VIP lunch. Hats off to P&O the lunch was excellent and the booze flowed freely in many ways.
The cabins were ready by 1.15, but we did not get out from lunch until just after 2pm - an excellent start to the cruise.
Then to the cabin C734, a GD grade standard balcony with small sofa on the stern. We liked the decor and had the usual hanging space and drawers. The balcony was fine, even if the weather wasn’t, as it continued to drizzle from a leaden sky. The bathroom is compact but functioned perfectly and once in the shower there is loads of room even for me (aka Mr W).
There is hanging space and a cupboard and small shelf unit, which provides good storage in the dressing area, however when opening the bathroom door you can catch your clothes, so it is narrower than on other ships. The first suitcase arrived by 2.30pm, but the others not until 4.15. A little frustrating for the boss (aka Mrs W).
Muster was at 5pm - no hitches, however, the new style life vests have more straps and clips – so advice to the women - do not wear a skirt. We cast off just after 6pm on an old wet day. With no fanfare, whistles or fireworks, this is now the reality for passengers in Britannia not lucky enough to be on the maiden sailing.
Delighted to see old friends and already had five or six special hellos from staff we know. The Boss got her kisses and cuddles from Neil Oliver (Entertainment Manager) Sharma (Hotel General Manager) - Olphy, the lovely Cherry who is now in Epicurean and gave the biggest of hugs to us both. It’s like being welcomed home.
Right off to The Glass House, for pre-dinner drinks before dining in the Peninsular MDR, with the dire warnings of Captain Paul Brown ringing in our ears. Strong winds and big seas for the next 24 hours!
Let’s first add to the list of old friends. It was lovely to be welcomed to the glasshouse by Alex, now promoted to wine host, and Ralston behind the bar. He also broke the news he had been promoted to wine host on the Ventura and will be going there in May. Well done to P&O promoting two young stars.
Time passed quickly, so to Peninsular for dinner - nice meal - mushroom risotto, sirloin steak and brioche bread and butter pudding. Only disappointment, no sign of a wine steward...
Ended the evening in the Crow’s nest listening to a little piano with a Jamesons whilst Mrs W hit the first cocktail of the day - a GT&E.
Overall a fantastic first day on what feels and looks an amazing ship. It didn't need the fanfare or the fireworks but it would have been nice. She is beautiful.