First glimpse of Britannia, P&O Cruises brand new cruise ship

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It cost more than £520 million to build, weighs 141,000 tons and will carry more than 3,600 passengers. And this Friday Britannia, P&O Cruises brand new cruise ship, will be making her way from the Fincantieri shipyard in Trieste, Italy, to her new home in Southampton, ahead of the official launch ceremony on March 10th.

Britannia P&O Cruises
Britannia is P&O Cruises’ largest cruise ship and sets sail for England on Friday

Journalists and travel agents were given a sneak preview last weekend, including a tour round the vessel guided by Britannia’s Captain Paul Brown.

P&O Cruises chairman David Dingle and chief executive David Noyes were part of our group, as were P&O’s new ‘food heroes’ Olly Smith, Eric Lanlard and Charlie Turnbull, respectively in charge of the wine, cakes and cheese offering on the ship.

Britannia P&O Cruises
It was a rainy Sunday morning but Britannia was still an impressive sight

The rainy day didn’t detract from the impressive sight of Britannia, P&O’s largest cruise ship to date, which will boost P&O’s passenger capacity by 24 per cent.  At 1.082 ft long, and with 15 passenger decks, she displays the world’s largest Union Flag on her bows (94 metres long) and she was pretty impressive on the inside too.

Our tour started at the central atrium, with its signature ‘starburst’ display taking centre stage, and then toured round its many facilities, from its 936-seater theatre, to its spa, restaurants, bars, casino and four swimming pools.

Britannia P&O Cruises
Britannia’s central atrium is three stories high and has a hanging ‘starburst’ sculpture
Britannia P&O Cruises
One of four pools on board Britannia. Just imagine it without the rain…
Britannia P&O Cruises
A superior deluxe cabin on A desk – very smart indeed and with impressive views
Britannia P&O cruises
The ship’s casino (there are also a lot of ultra-modern slot machines)
Britannia P&O cruises
Just waiting for customers now…

The Mail on Sunday’s wine columnist Olly Smith was bursting with excitement to see his new wine bar and grill The Glass House, with its own tasting room.

It’s not just about the wine though – there will be 70 different British beers on board Britannia, and two specially made for Olly which will be served at The Glass House; Harvey’s Jolly Olly and his very own Rocky Head ale.

Britannia P&O Cruises
The very entertaining Olly Smith was delighted to have finally made it to his Glass House bar

After the grand tour we piled into the theatre for the official ceremony where Britannia was handed over by Italian shipbuilders Fincantieri to P&O Cruises. The acoustics were then shown off by British R&B singer Jaki  Graham singing her hits including ‘Could it be I’m falling in love’ and then it was off to the Peninsula Restaurant to sample the food (which was delicious).

Britannia P&O Cruises
I had parma ham and melon, sea bass with roasted vegetables and a lot of formaggio (and wine)

The immaculate interior design could not be faulted – although the slightly weird communual entrances to the loos throughout the ship could be, meaning ladies often had to walk past the door-free entrance to the men’s loos which was a little disconcerting – and it will be interesting to see how Britannia feels with 3,600 people on board, rather than just several hundred.

Meanwhile it was back to the plane and the calm efficiency of Farnborough’s small and private airport.

Britannia P&O Cruises
Farnborough airport – an extremely pleasant place to fly from

Britannia will be officially launched at a ceremony in Southampton on Tuesday 10th March by Her Majesty The Queen and sets sail on her sold-out maiden voyage on 14th March to Monte Carlo, Gibraltar, Rome and Cadiz. To book a trip on Britannia, go to http://www.pocruises.com/cruise-ships/britannia/ 

Britannia P&O Cruises

Read all about my first trip on Britannia here: http://aladyofleisure.com/luxury-travel-britannia-cruise-ship-reviews/

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Sarah Bridge

Sarah Bridge

Every review is personally researched and written by leisure expert Sarah Bridge who, when she is not writing about leisure for a national newspaper, spends her time seeking out the best leisure experiences, from city centre boutique hotels to country house estates, Michelin-starred dining to the newest openings.
Sarah Bridge
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