Posted March 16th, 2015
Britannia Takes Her Bow
Last week, we all received a long awaited glimpse of one of the most eagerly anticipated ships to be introduced to the cruising world this year. Britannia arrived in Southampton in all her glory, to be officially named by Her Majesty The Queen in a ceremony which made national and international news around the world.
The royal christening wasn’t the only attention that this iconic ship received though, as her decks were opened up to travel partners from all over the country so that they could see what all the fuss was about. Luckily, a chosen few here at Fred.\ Holidays were among the list of guests welcomed aboard for the night.
Arriving In Anticipation
As we arrived into the city of Southampton and headed towards the docks, necks started to strain as everyone sat up hoping to be the first person to spot the proud vessel in port. However, it soon became aware that straining wasn’t needed, as once we turned the corner and approached our destination, she loomed on the horizon.
The excitement was subdued somewhat though as we patiently waited in the terminal building for what seemed like an eternity. Coloured letters were handed out by the P&O Cruises staff, before a bingo-like atmosphere filled a room of people anticipating the announcement of their designated letter. It turned out that the delay was due to the Queen taking longer than expected to look around, so perhaps even she found herself overwhelmed by Britannia’s majesty.
Once onboard, it was time to take a tour of our own and so we headed off in search of the public areas we had heard so much about. Spaces such as the Cookery Club, the adult-only Retreat, and the extensive Reef (kids club) didn’t disappoint, as the women imagined themselves relaxing in one of the cabanas; the men envisaged running amok in an area filled with PS4s, pool tables, Wii Us and air hockey; and we all envied anyone lucky enough to be shown the culinary ropes by Mary Berry and James Martin.
Viewing This Vibrant Vessel
After a brief look at some of the other public spaces, such as the pool deck, Brodie’s, and the gym, it was time to don our formalwear ready for an exciting evening. We took this time to have a look around the stylishly appointed cabins we had been given for the night. A large flat screen TV hung on the wall, offering a choice of channels and on-demand films, whilst the comfortable beds were positioned for a front row seat. The rest of the reasonably-sized cabin was filled with a bedside table, vanity desk, chair, and small table.
The bathroom offered toiletries from the White Company along with a glass shower door that was a welcome upgrade from the soggy curtains so often experienced in the past. A moderately sized balcony also beckoned us outside. This was an invitation that would have seemed all the more inviting had it offered more than just a view of the Southampton docks car park.
Clothed in cocktail dresses and tuxedos, we headed down to the impressive starburst atrium for a Champagne reception. As crew members milled around, carrying canapés and flutes full to the brim, we were welcomed on board by none other than the CEO and President of Carnival Corporation; Arnold Donald. He echoed our excitement for the inauguration of such a fantastic ship, before we headed into the Peninsular Restaurant for a gala dinner.
Dinner, Dancing, And An Indulgent Drink
Along with the Oriental and Meridian, the Peninsular Restaurant is the main dining area on board Britannia. We were led through a room filled with tables of different sizes and shown to one that accommodated eight of us. Our eyes lit up in unison as we began to ponder a menu that included options like lobster, cannon of lamb, and duck breast (my choice). In total, five courses frequented our table, including a choice of soup and a palate-cleansing Champagne sorbet.
Suitably full, we made our way to the Crow’s Nest (observation lounge) where a few of us had eyed up the gin and tonic menu earlier in the afternoon. No less than 20 different artisan gins line the shelves here, but there was one concoction that we just had to try. Chocolate gin, produced by the Ely Gin Company in Cambridgeshire, is mixed with orange juice to create a tipple that is reminiscent of everyone’s favourite stocking filler. It wasn’t Terry’s, it was mine.
With a spring in our step, we headed off to the Headliner’s Theatre to watch a show entitled ‘Gravity’. Billed as a rock musical, we were slightly disappointed that it turned out to be a plotless journey through most of the hits in the current top 40. However, people were happily clapping along and enjoying the interesting costumes and animated scenery.
Our night was rounded off in excellent fashion by a spell on the dancefloor in the Live Lounge. The DJ filled the room with classic 80s and 90s hits as everyone cut loose after an excellent day on board. It was clear that Britannia has something for everyone, and those of us who were happy to dance until the lights came on had found the perfect place.
If you would like to experience this amazing ship in her debut season, we have plenty of Britannia cruises available. Please call us today for more information or contact us via our online form.