Before she headed off in search of the sun, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity of stepping back on board one of my favourite ships and spending a couple of nights exploring what new delights she had on offer.
Sitting majestically at Ocean Terminal, Britannia certainly looks good as new from the outside. Externally, there are few changes to notice other than the addition of glass canopies over the aft balconies on A and B decks.
Supposedly erected to shield from the hustle and bustle of the Sunset Bar above, as well as to combat the soot issues that have long since burdened the ship’s aft balconies, these canopies look more aesthetically pleasing than I had previously envisioned.
With that said, I am sure this addition will be a bit like marmite for passengers – you’ll either love it or hate it. I particularly liked the open balconies, which provided the opportunity to soak up some magnificent views and plenty of sunshine, while others may prefer the seclusion and privacy these new canopies bring.
Outside appearances can be deceiving, however. While Britannia may look much the same from the dockside, stepping aboard you will find several enhancements centred around improving guest satisfaction and providing an extra level of luxury and style.
The most significant change has taken place at the heart of the ship – I am, of course, referring to her stylish new atrium. While it has always been stunning, with her Starburst chandelier glistening in the ambient lighting, for me Britannia’s atrium has often lacked an element of soul.
Completely transformed, this space is now the lively social hub that Britannia deserves. With an electric atmosphere that exudes glamour and sophistication, the vessel’s heart is beating stronger than ever. Fresh colour schemes, relaxed entertainment and informal performances make this space a perfect place to unwind.
The move to a more central piano and entertainment space is a welcome change that helps add extra sparkle in the evenings. On this occasion, the Caribbean vibes were strong as Britannia prepared for her winter-sun season, making disembarking in a rather dismal Southampton even harder than usual.
Other notable additions include a revamped menu in Java café which now serves your favourite tipple, making it the perfect spot to watch the atrium come to life.
Down below, you’ll find a shoppers’ paradise with a more immersive and interactive experience, while a permanent art gallery has been placed next to the Blue Bar on Deck 5, adding an element of substance to Britannia’s newfound style.
Swapping sides, the Market Café shines after a recent refurbishment and the addition of a new menu from master pâtissier and Food Hero Eric Lanlard – the waffles are a must-try!
Elsewhere, the Oasis Spa has received several new facilities, including high-tech ‘express spa’ pods, as well as a new aroma steam room to ease away your cares and worries. Furthermore, gadget enthusiasts will delight in the addition of a new Dixons electronics hub featuring the latest imaging, computing and audio tech from some of the biggest brands around.
Add in the usual freshen up in most public spaces and a terrific amount of maintenance and modernisation behind the scenes, and it’s clear to see that Britannia has returned better than ever and ready for the next phase of her sojourn at sea.
Altogether, while the majority of the ship remains unchanged, P&O has certainly excelled in design and style with Britannia’s new atrium, which is undoubtedly the most glamorous in the fleet. It has certainly increased my excitement as we eagerly anticipate the arrival of P&O Cruises new ship, Iona, in May 2020.
So returning to the question of whether the newly refurbed Britannia lives up to expectations and the answer is a resounding yes.
Fancy experiencing Britannia’s new glamour for yourself? Then set sail with P&O Cruises on a 14-night Caribbean cruise calling at Antigua, Grenada, Bonaire and more, departing January 2020, from £1,299pp, pocruises.com.