The Britannia; 141,000-tons and 3600 berths, debuted in February, 2014.
Best For People Who Want
People who want the best Princess experience possible - active nightlife, gourmet cuisine, spacious spa, adults-only sections, 24-hour food, great stateroom TV
Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Small, destination oriented ships, all-inclusive cruises
Any ship officially named by Queen Elizabeth - reigning monarch of Britain, is an important ship.
Her keel was laid in October 2012. At 141,000-gross tons for 3600 passenger berths, she is the largest P&O cruise ship ever built - for a European market cruise line. She is sister ship to Royal Princess and debuted on Valentine's Day, 2014.
Some of the new attractions on Britannia include cantilevered walkways with glass floors on deck 16 where guests can stroll out over the side of the ship with a view of the ocean over 100 feet below. The ship has 19 decks in all, with the uppermost full deck holding the Sanctuary (adults only) area up front and the kids' and teens' special areas aft.
Entertainment options include full-screen 3-D movies, a "television studio" where a Good Morning show will be video-taped daily in front of a live audience along and special musical events presented at night, and the largest production show theater P&O has ever built.
An much larger atrium based upon what is already available on previous P&O ships serves as a focal point for the new ship with a much more "lively" neighborhood feel. A coffee barista and gelateria anchor the atrium surrounded by simulated al fresco seating (it is actually inside, but feels like a street setting) for a variety of popular restaurants.
One of the nicer technical features will be a ship-wide Wi-fi network that is free to access with smart phones or laptop. This is not Internet service (that will still have an extra charge) but it is a shipboard network that enables people to communicate with one another and to get updates from the ship's servers on shipboard activities, etc.
The Sanctuary and the Retreat Pool, fully forward on deck 17, are tranquility areas for adults only. There are surcharge fees for a half day or a full day. Inside are a dedicated bar, two hot tubs, a swimming pool and several deep and cushy chaise lounges.
For a special treat there are four Sanctuary Cabanas, at even more fees per half-day, which include a TV with headsets, robes and slippers, welcome cocktails and healthy snacks (dried fruit and nuts). They also have optional mini-bars and selections of fine wines and imported beer. Two other cabanas contain two massage tables for couples; prices based on the treatments selected.
Cabana dwellers can also order a gourmet picnic; a premium bottle of wine paired with antipasti, artisan sandwiches, pizza and fresh-baked desserts. These come in several options, all good for two people. All cabanas have Wi-Fi access, and all devices have headsets to maintain the tranquility.
P&O has always featured smaller, quieter dining rooms to give the ship a more intimate feeling. One of the Britannia dining rooms will offer a unique dining experience called “Chef’s Table Lumiere.” Once guests are seated, a curtain of thousands of fiber-optic light strands descends from the ceiling glowing with soft colors. Dinner is a wine-paired tasting menu.
Similarly, the other two dining rooms feature a private dining experience called the “Wine Cellar,” where up to 12 guests will enjoy a special menu developed by noted winemakers pairing their best vintages with classic carved meats like crown of veal rack, lamb Baron and veal rack a l’Orlov.
Sabatini’s – the signature “tasting-menu” Italian restaurant on all Princess ships -- has some new twists on Royal Princess. Guests can order a la carte for dinner, and also get lunch there for the first time. Another first is the Pub Lunch to be served in the Wheelhouse Bar and adjacent Crown Grill, consisting of traditionally British fish-and-chips or bangers and mash.
P&O Grille offers the most extensive gourmet menu at a per person cost of $25.
P&O now adds the gratuity onto your shipboard account for your convenience.
The most interesting new entertainment venue by far is the brand new "Britannia Live! Television Studio." Although neither daily television shows nor T.V. production rooms are new to cruise ships, this is the first British ship with a dedicated live television studio, including an audience, to tape daily cruise shows for onboard broadcast. The room has a modular design, much like a regular television studio, so staging and seating areas can be easily reconfigured to suit a variety of entertainment offerings.
The shows, which are taped with a live audience, also include music performances as well as passenger participation game shows. Everything done there can be seen live in the audience, over the stateroom television and re-broadcasted on the television systems later in the cruise.
Passengers are welcome to come and watch the live broadcast and taping of the daily cruise director-hosted talk show, "The Wake Show." Here the cruise director will chat with various entertainers or ship's personnel - whomever he can manage to rustle up early in the morning, to come and discuss what cruisers may see that day or later on in the cruise. The "Wake Show!" will be presented to the studio audience plus simultaneously broadcast live to the staterooms. It will also be repeated on stateroom televisions throughout the same day.
Adjacent is the Britannia Live! Café which surrounds passengers with interactive, wall-mounted video screens showing the ship's position, ports of call, points of interest and even international newspapers. The Café will serve up specialty coffees, teas and freshly squeezed citrus juice, plus will offer a selection of fresh-baked croissants and pastries in the morning.
Tthe main showroom, Britannia Theater, hosts the ship's production shows and "state of the art movie presentations."
The staterooms are fairly standard for P&O ships - not much new there except for the interactive television system that will include television shows and movies on demand.
Otherwise the balcony, insides and mini-suites present nothing new from previous P&O ships. There are suites available.
1,780 (1,438 outside - 342 inside)
Suites with private balconies
Deluxe Balcony cabins
Wheelchair Accessible Cabins: 36 including: 29 balcony and 7 inside
Cabins with Private Balconies: 1,438 (81 percent of all outside cabins)
Many P&O enthusiasts and loyal cruisers will take this ship solely because it is new. Average age is mid 40's although expect to see people in all categories. This is not a "senior citizen" ship by any means, but it also is not a "rock & roll" crowd. Sophisticated, educated but still young at heart people enjoy Princess cruises the most.
Britannia has a grand Atrium almost 50% larger than current Princess ships, but it also opens up to several other public venues giving it and even grander atmosphere. It will also tend to feel "awake and alive" during more hours of the day and night.
The public area on deck 17 has the "sea walk" - a 60 feet long glass enclosed walkway that extends 28-feet out from the edge of the ship. Through the glass floor you can look down to the sea 128-feet directly below. Directly adjacent is the deck area with two large pools, a swim-up bar, a massive outdoor movie screen for the Princess-innovated "Movies Under the Stars" and an island area between the pools that becomes a stage for a technology-driven dancing colored lights and fountains show at night. There will also be nighttime deck parties with a DJ on another stage close by.
The Sanctuary and Retreat Pool areas are both designated as adults-only and situated together at the forward end of deck 17. The attraction is the peace and quiet, with a tranquility rock garden setting with live topiary plants. There are deck chairs in a quiet setting so adults can relax in the sun or opt for even more secluded cabanas where one can order optional picnic baskets with "artisan snacks" and a premium wine.
Deck 16 contains a special thrill: The SeaWalk, a structural outcropping that takes guests 28-feet beyond the edges of the ship, with a glass floor showing the 128-foot drop to the open ocean below. For balance, the opposite side of the ship has its own outcrop with glass floor as part of the SeaView Bar. The view below should keep drinkers in their seats.
One most ships the bridge is the widest part of the ship because of the bridge wings, but on Royal Princess the two Sea-view extensions together comprise the widest part of the ship.
The most interesting new entertainment venue by far is the brand new "Britannia Live! Television Studio." Although neither daily television shows nor T.V. production rooms are new to cruise ships, this will be the first ship with a dedicated live television studio, including an audience, to tape daily cruise shows for onboard broadcast. The room has a modular design, much like a regular television studio, so staging and seating areas can be easily reconfigured to suit a variety of entertainment offerings.
P&O entertainment director Marlin Hall describes it as a "brand new high-tech venue based on a television studio with modular seating (for 280 guests) for a variety of performances such as television talk shows or theater in the round." The shows, which will be taped with a live audience, will include music performances as well as passenger participation game shows, which he says have become a staple on Princess over the years. Everything done there can be seen live in the audience, over the stateroom television and re-broadcasted on the television systems later in the cruise.
Early risers are welcome to come and watch the live broadcast and taping of the daily cruise director-hosted talk show, "The Wake Show." Here the cruise director will chat with various entertainers or ship's personnel - whomever he can manage to rustle up early in the morning, to come and discuss what cruisers may see that day or later on in the cruise. The "Wake Show!" is presented to the studio audience plus simultaneously broadcast live to the staterooms. It will also be repeated on stateroom televisions throughout the same day.
For musical entertainment, Britannia Live! is a unique venue for onboard musical artists to perform "unplugged and in the round" for a more intimate connection with the audience. The adjacent Britannia Live! Café surrounds passengers with interactive, wall-mounted video screens showing the ship's position, ports of call, points of interest and even international newspapers. The Café serves up specialty coffees, teas and freshly squeezed citrus juice, plus will offer a selection of fresh-baked croissants and pastries in the morning.
The main showroom, Britannia Theater, is where the ship's production shows and "state of the art movie presentations" take place.
There will be some design enhancements over previous ships - such as lower ceiling and an architectural lighting effect that appears to completely envelop the walls and ceiling. The theater is the largest in the fleet and "presents the signature production shows and high impact award winning entertainers in the evening, with special enrichment presentations (lectures on ports of call, for example) and a premium movie-going experience during the daytime," according to P&O.
The other new venue, the Deck Seven-aft "Vista Lounge" (a signature venue throughout the fleet) will be for "more intimate entertainment" with "cutting edge light and sound technology" that will pair the best of previous Vista Lounges with another signature P&O venue, "Club Fusion," the late-night dance clubs on late-model fleet-mate P&O ships. The showroom includes a spacious dance floor and will feature live dance bands, late night comedy, rock 'n roll shows, cabaret, and special theme night parties.
Most P&O ships have atriums, but the Piazza here is twice the size, and restyled as a social hub where guests can gather for coffee, gelato, sweet treats, fine wine, pizza, martinis, cabaret-style entertainment and more. The key is opening up the surrounding venues -- like visiting a vibrant European city center.
There are restaurants like Alfredo’s Pizzeria, Vines Wine Bar, and Gelato. The International Café for coffee and free pastry is open 24 hours a day. Other charmers will be Vines, a wine-tasting bar that will also serve tapas; and Ocean Terrace for sushi, ceviche and caviar, overlooking the Atrium on deck 7.
There is a large variety of cuisine available:
Aft on deck 17 (the pool deck) are two connected Lido restaurants that together can seat 1,400 people, including 200 tables for two -- almost twice the size the corresponding eateries on other P&O ships. The first, Horizon Bistro, will feature cuisine theme nights like Brazilian churrascaria or British pub fare. Self-service is provided from dedicated “action stations” for easy access. Guests in bathing suits are welcome for “grab and go” food like sandwiches, yogurt and pastry.
The second, Horizon Court, offers five meat carveries, a rotisserie, five soups, hibachi grills, pasta and salad bars and more.The Lido pastry kitchen at sea has a 24-hour dedicated chef and staff baking fresh croissants, waffles and French toast for breakfast, classic desserts for lunch and dinner, and flambé in the evening – including a fountain of chocolate.
The best P&O workers available have been sent to its newest ship to make sure it gets off to the grandest start possible.
The waiters are gracious and the room stweards are efficient.
Watch out for drink prices - on a cocktail they will charge you for the liquor and the mixer sepatrately (50-cents for soda water in a whisky-soda), then an 18-percent service charge is added. By the time they are finished a $5.99 drinks comes to over $8.00.
The massive Loyus spa will offer all kinds of services including a thermal suite with spectacular views. There are acupuncture and even "non-surgical facelifts" on tap. Haircuts, pedicures, manicures and more.
Kids from 6 months to 17 years old have their own dedicted spaces - separated by age groups
6 to 36 months
3 to 7 years
8 to 11
The ship has formal nights and although the dress codes are suggested expect most people to adhere to the guidelines. Even tuxedos will be seen as long as this ship is new, although nice suits will do just as well.
Daytime is casual - jeans or shorts are all right, although a smart "country club casual" is common.