There was something about P&O Cruises’ new ship Britannia which reminded me of Las Vegas, and it wasn’t just the casino. It was partly the vast amount of food on offer on board at its 13 restaurants – the stories about gaining weight on cruise holidays seemed all too plausible – but being able to leave your room and go out for dinner at a restaurant, or to a bar, or to the theatre or a nightclub, all without stepping outdoors, seemed exactly like the hotels of Vegas.
But unlike Vegas, which is after all, stuck in the middle of a desert, our own bubble-like world was moving: in our case floating from Guernsey to Bilbao and La Coruna in Spain, and heading home via La Rochelle and Isle de Re in France. As Britannia is so vast, you never get the sense of being at sea, so every morning it was a lovely surprise when you found a different view greeting you from your balcony. It was an almost entirely hassle-free holiday. For a cruising first-timer such as myself, I could certainly see the appeal.
I had been rather nervous about the prospect of spending a week on a ship. My perfect holiday abroad would see me heading off into the unknown, reading maps and checking timetables, buying and cooking local food, moving on at a moment’s notice and often ending up somewhere completely unexpected. The thought of sharing my holiday with 3,600 other holidaymakers, not to mention 1,400 crew, filled me with alarm. Would there be queues to board, to eat, to drink, to explore?