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Well, the hoopla has died down and it’s time to have a think about what the ship will offer.

The truth is that as yet, we don’t have very much hard detail. Of course, Royal Princess exists, and as she’s the first ship in the same class as Britannia we can look at Royal Princess and learn a lot about Britannia. But P&O have promised that there will be differences, although so far they’ve been coy about defining them. Here’s a list as far as I can work out:

  • it will have a ‘British’ feel to it – they have employed a UK-based design consultancy to advise them. In their statement they said this: “Britannia will underpin P&O Cruises unique commitment to building ships specifically designed to anticipate the tastes of today’s Britain“.
  • We believe it will have a Crows nest, though it’s not clear where. From the fly-by animated video it looks as if it’s at the front of the Lido deck, but there are cabins there on Royal Princess. Above that, on the Sun deck, is the Sanctuary; and above that is nothing. So it’s either got to at the front of the Lido deck, which would reduce the number of cabins and hence revenue; or perhaps it could go where the Sanctuary is, in a new deck house, and have the Sanctuary above that. But stability becomes an issue if you start adding new deckhouses that high up;
  • The range of bars, restaurants and lounges will be different from those on Royal Princess, although they’re very likely to be in the same places;
  • It will have single cabins, possibly quite a lot of them, of all types. The statement actually said “it will also have more single cabins than any other cruise ship, many of them with balconies” from which I infer that there will be some single cabins without balconies;
  • There’s a hint that there will be more pools on Britannia than on Royal Princess, right aft on the Sun deck. You can see something like a small pool in that location in the video (about 35 to 37 seconds into it), and Royal Princess doesn’t have a pool in that location;
  • Unless it’s just because the ‘fly-by’ animated video isn’t detailed enough, it looks as if there isn’t a Skywalk on the starboard side, although there is a definite bulge there, and on the port side, on the Lido and Sun decks. So perhaps they’re going to give us a SeaView bar on both sides. Or perhaps nothing;
  • Again, it might be a video issue but the balconies aren’t as varied as those on Royal Princess;
  • I’m going to assume that the casino on Britannia won’t be anything like as large as that on Royal Princess, just as the casinos on Ventura and Azura were smaller than on the Princess sister ships. That earlier P&O pair had a pub in the space left vacant (The Exchange on Ventura and Brodie’s on Azura) and I wouldn’t be surprised if something similar was done on Britannia.

Then there are number of things which we know, or are pretty certain, will be the same as Royal Princess. Obviously the overall hull, number of main decks, and the arrangement of the decks will the same – it pretty much has to. But there are other points. We know that she won’t have a wrap-round promenade deck; indeed, like Royal Princess, it won’t really be possible to walk along the promenade at all. The only access to the open air at that level will be direct onto those seating areas that you can see in the video, and that access will be directly onto it – it won’t be possible to move along that outside at all. Princess issued this guidance about Royal Princess “The Royal Princess Promenade deck will have limited access to passengers. In order to transit fore/aft from the forward passenger area, passengers will have to go inside the ship” and I’m sure that will be true of Britannia as well.

Finally, there’s the question of who this ship is intended to appeal to. The announcement and initial comments have talked about ‘resonating with existing passengers’. Well, they’ve got to say that, I feel. However I have read various unofficial comments to the effect that Britannia’s real target is new customers – if you like she will be P&O’s (and therefore Carnival UK’s) answer to Independence of the Seas, which has done well in the UK market. Attracting new customers opens up all sorts of questions about whether or not existing P&O tradition will be maintained or not. It wouldn’t surprise me if there was more provision for Freedom Dining than for traditional dining; indeed, it’s always possible that there might be no provision for the latter, though that might be a step too far at the moment. I also wonder if there will be formal nights. Perhaps it might be changed so that just one restaurant observed that dress code, and elsewhere did not. But that’s just speculation.

Britannia will go into service sometime in mid-2015, I think, which means that she will definitely feature in next year’s brochure. That means that all the details I’ve raised above will have to be settled by not long after the turn of the year. So we’ll know a lot more than we do now pretty soon.

11 Responses to “Some thoughts on P&O Britannia”

  1. Iain Smith says:

    am quite keen to try out a “new” ship in it’s first year and this will coincide nicely with our 25 year Wedding Annieversary – question is where will she be based in the winter ??

    • Jenny Ryan says:

      Hello Tom, would you know what time the Britannia leaves southampton this sat the 14th of march ? would like to watch it go out, kind regards,Jenny.

  2. Malcolm Oliver says:

    Hi Tom, some interesting speculation. It’s hard not to imagine that Britannia will need to appeal to the masses (especially families) to fill such a big ship, so not unlike RCI’s target market (and NCL’s). To me this seems another step further away from P&O’s original client profile.

    If the ship has an extra pool it is unlikely to be very big at all. Adding many extra tons of water to an upper deck, can affect the stability of a ships design. Likewise adding a big sliding sun-roof can compromise the design. However it’s not impossible either.

    Rumour has it that RCI’s new ‘Quantum’ design will be based at Southampton in summer 2015. NCL’s Breakaway, Getaway or Getaway-Plus ships are likely to visit our shores in the future too. Britannia will have some summer competition.

    I wonder how traditionalist P&O passengers feel about such a big ship being added to the P&O fleet. Some felt Ventura/Azura were a ‘bridge too far’.

    • Tom says:

      Thanks for the comment, Malcolm. Good points about the size of the possible extra pool and other features high-up.

      I’ve been looking at some reviews for Royal Princess. In general the Princess faithful don’t seem especially impressed with her, overall. While the quality of the interiors wins praise, there’s quite a bit of unhappiness being expressed about the absence of a promenade deck and size of the balconies. There’s another issue that I hadn’t grasped until I looked at the deck plans with more care, and that’s that there are no central stairs – there’s a set of lifts, but no staircase. Passengers wanting to move up or down just a couple of decks midships either have to queue for a lift or walk to either the forward or aft stairs, and then walk back. There are quite a few complaints about that. I’d be very surprised indeed if this can be changed in Britannia – I think this is the kind of design fundamental that can’t be changed easily, if at all.

      • Hi Tom, big newbuilds like Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Breakaway (both bigger than Britanna) should have three stair/lift towers for convenience, but don’t. They have one forward and one aft, with some central stairs and/or escalator in the middle at an atrium space, between a few decks, but not all.

        At times this can force you to walk half a decks length (which are very long) to find a full set of stairs/lifts. I guess that this design leave more room for bars, dining and income generation areas.

        The stairs will form part of the ships design structure so cannot be changed – easily anyway.

        NCL’s Breakaway (an amazing ship in many ways) has lots of compact cabins, even many of the expensive suites, and some very small balconies – hardly room to fit two chairs! That’s a ‘mass market’ design for you!

  3. Gary says:

    We are back in Southampton on Ventura with Britannia’s future captain (he flew back for the name reveal) and he’s a very nice person indead. He conducted the wedding of our son on this cruise and he’ll be conducting our 25th anniversary renewal of vows in a couple of days (the next cruise). I’m going to ask about Britannia when we see him but I doubt I’ll get anything more out of him.
    I quite like the name, it’s the one I thought they’d go for and we’re planning to be on the maiden just because we want to regardless of the ship design but if we don’t like it we won’t go back on it. We did the 17 night central med Azura maiden which we enjoyed though I think P&O will go for 14 nights for Britannia probably west med as they didn’t fill Azura’s maiden as quickly as they’d have liked. We had already been on Ventura so we knew what it was basically like and we’ve been on both several times since though we still really like Aurora. I hope they get the design right and it looks like they’re changing some of the things I didn’t like the look of on the Princess designs so cross fingers.
    Anyway I’m of to the Canaries later 😉

  4. maggie says:

    I have been told there will be no casino is this right

    • Tom says:

      According to the deck plans, there’s a small area labelled ‘casino’ alongside Brodies (the pub?) on deck 6. So I think it’s the same sort of arrangement as on Azura and Ventura.

  5. David Dring says:


    My wife and I have been cruising with P&O for many years now and have sailed on all ships in the current fleet. One of the most enjoyable pastimes for us is being able to step outside onto the promenade deck from any of the main venues and simply take a stroll. I have spoken to many like minded people like ourselves who look in horror at the design of the Britannia with no proper prom deck as we all know it,i feel this unfortunately is the way that all future ships will be designed.

    Aurora is our our favourite ship now and we just keep using her when we cruise,we all just have to enjoy her while she is with us for alas i feel there will not be any more like her.


    • Tom says:

      Thanks for the comment, David.

      I’ve got very mixed feelings about Britannia. Like you I much prefer a ship with a wrap-round promenade, and if i have a balcony then I want a decent-sized one. But there might be some cruises, e,g shorter ones in more northerly latitudes, where a balcony might not be so essential and where, for a just a week, we could manage without a promenade. I’m thinking about a Fjords cruise, perhaps – it would be handy to have a balcony to go out onto the look at the scenery, but actual sunbathing opportunities might be far and few between. But we certainly aren’t rushing to book a cruise on her.

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