I’ve just returned from a fantastic weekend away with eight friends on board P&O’s flagship Britannia, sampling one of their 2 night mini cruises from Southampton to Bruges.
If you’ve never been on a cruise before, arriving at Southampton and seeing thousands of people going through security can initially be a little overwhelming but P&O’s organisation was second to none and we arrived, checked in and boarded within half an hour. The two night cruises depart on a Friday afternoon and return to Southampton on Sunday morning. You need to be prepared for an early disembarkation on the Sunday as the ship sails again in the afternoon so cabins need to be vacated by 8am on the last day. We had a great time experiencing everything this amazing ship has to offer, and then spent Saturday exploring the cobbled streets of Bruges before returning to Southampton on Sunday.
The Britannia is a large ship featuring 13 bars, 12 restaurants, 5 pools including an adult-only quiet pool, 7 entertainment venues including a theatre and a cinema, a spa, gym, sports arena, library, casino, kids clubs and shops. It takes a maximum of 3647 passengers and has 1350 crew. Unfortunately two nights is simply not enough time on board to take advantage of all the facilities but we did make an effort to visit most of the bars and generally explore. It is very easy to get lost and speaking to guests who had done longer cruises on this ship, they assured me that they were still getting lost even after a week!
All the outside cabins have balconies and are more spacious than some other ships that I’ve been on, and it was a lovely touch to find The White Company products in the bathrooms. We ate at one of the free dining restaurants as well as the buffet restaurant and both were good. The speciality restaurants, for which there is a charge, looked lovely, and if I do a longer cruise on the Britannia, I would definitely like to sample some of these.
The sail-away party out on deck is an acquired taste. You’ll either love it or hate it. There is lots of flag waving, loud music and entertainment team led singing and dancing. However, if it’s not your thing, there are plenty of other spaces to escape to. That’s the beauty of a big ship! After dinner we spent time at the bars and dancing venues as well as going to the theatre and watching Astonishing which was a rather impressive magic and illusion show.
The weekend worked out great value as the amount you pay includes not just accommodation but food and entertainment too. Bar prices are very reasonable, and in fact we found them cheaper than your average London pub. With on board credit deducted from my bill, I managed to spend just £35 and I had a fair few glasses of wine, larger, and a cocktail or two (or was it three?!).
I would say that a mini cruise is a perfect way to celebrate a big occasion and we saw quite a few hen parties and groups of friends on board. There is plenty of opportunity to dance the night away at one of the entertainment venues, and that’s exactly what we did. I’m almost glad to have a day at my desk today as my feet haven’t stopped aching yet!
Here are some of my photos to give you an idea of what you can expect.
If you’d like to know more about mini cruises speak to me, Janine, at The Travel Trove 0203 598 6245.