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Last Friday I toured Britannia as part of a press/media visit, and spent about three hours aboard her. There were quite a lot of people aboard – most were on passenger visits – and we were able to explore the ship pretty thoroughly. This post, and a couple of others, will give my impression on Britannia and will include a number of pictures – I took a camera with me. I’ll start with the atrium and the spaces immediately adjacent to it.

We boarded onto deck 5, the lowest level of the atrium. As on Ventura and Azura it’s three decks high; unlike them it feels more oblong-shaped than the rather square shape they seem to have. The bottom floor (deck 5) has the Blue Bar and the Market Cafe in the atrium itself. Going forward from there you’ll find guest services (reception), then the Limelight Club and finally the spa. Heading aft from the atrium (on deck 5) is one of the main restaurants, the Meridian – again like Ventura and Azura, there are three ‘main dining rooms’. In fact it’s fair to say that in may ways, Britannia is rather like an enlarged Ventura or Azura.

My first impression on entering the atrium was that it was very roomy and spacious – more so than on Ventura or Azura. My second impression was that the colour palate was very muted – there are a lot of creams, browns, ‘dusty’ greens and beiges, there’s not much sparkle or glitz here. There is one big exception, of course, and that’s the starburst descending from the ceiling on deck 7. More of that later.

On deck 5 we had a look at the Market Cafe – this will apparently feature speciality cheeses and drinks, but I’m not sure if these will be ‘additional cost’ or not – and briefly at the (closed) Blue Bar. This is differently located from Ventura and Azura; on those ships, the equivalent bar is on deck 7, at the top of the atrium. I’m not sure about the switch of those two facilities, but with the Blue Bar being on the ground floor of the atrium there will certainly be plenty of space around it for big functions such as the Captain’s Gala. Maybe that’s the reason for the switch, in fact – the equivalent bars on the other ships got very crowded on those nights.

Going forward from the atrium on deck 5 we came to the Limelight Club. I gather this is going to be a room where passengers can simultaneously dine and be entertained – singers, musicians, perhaps a comedian. I think the model is an old-style intimate nightclub. I though this room was very glamorous and well-designed – the finishes seems of very high quality (and I had this from an expert – more on that later). There’s a small stage area that I couldn’t get a picture of. Finally on this deck is the spa. The most significant point about this area is that it’s on deck 5 and not on the Lido deck; this has freed up some space on the Lido deck for something else (more later). There’s also a hydrotherapy pool in the spa but I wasn’t able to get a picture – it was too dark and it was also very steamy.  But again, the facilities all seemed to be of high quality, and I saw a number of visitors looking very appreciatively at them.

Next deck up is deck 6. In fact we only visited that deck briefly and I’m afraid I don’t have pictures. That’s the main shopping area, however. Going forward from there is Brodie’s, the pub, which looked very similar to the similarly-named bar on Azura, and the casino. As on all P&O ships, and differently from the Princess equivalents, the casino is a small space while Brodie’s is much larger. P&O know what Brits prefer to do on a cruise….

We did spend some time on deck 7 and looked at the spaces immediately on and adjacent to the atrium. In the atrium itself these are The Glasshouse and Java. I’ve added a picture of each above, but they are a bit misleading – there is in fact much more seating than is shown. These were very inviting areas, I could see myself moving happily from Java to the Glasshouse and then back to Java… Going forward from the atrium is the Crystal Room. This is described as ‘a show lounge dedicated to the love of dancing with a wooden floor…’, and it’s where the ‘Strictly’ events will take place on the relevant themed cruises. More generally, it will be used for ‘glittering evening balls’ with musical entertainment (live bands and vocalists),  and dance classes during the day.

Also on deck 7 aft of the atrium is Sindhu, but I’ll cover that in a later post all about the various restaurants.

Matthew and the Starburst

Matthew and the Starburst

Finally, one member of our party was Mathew Hardwick, a partner and designer with the design consultancy company Jona Hoad Design. The consultancy was retained by Richmond International (who had overall control of the whole design of Britannia) specifically to create and implement the Starburst. This had appeared as a concept in the earliest drawings of the atrium, and it was up to Jona Hoad Design, and Mathew specifically, to realise it, and I think he’s done a magnificent job – it’s a real highlight, which my photos don’t do justice to. Mathew told me a bit about the iterative process by which  the starburst’s design was agreed, and of his hands-on involvement in its realisation – he went out to the shipyard several times, and  the stainless steel bowl at its base was only installed after Britannia’s arrival in Southampton.

It was especially interesting having Mathew in the party because of his different perspective. A number of times we would enter a space and stand and get an overall impression; Mathew on the other hand would make an almost immediate bee-line to a design highlight in the space and examine it carefully, to get a feel (literally, in many cases) of the quality of the design and the materials. Generally, the rooms got a nod of approval. But he made on or two comments on points that wouldn’t have occurred to me. For example, in one room he made the comment that it was a pity that the upwards-facing LEDs that provided much of the light were visible and not hidden – he wondered if a more translucent effect wouldn’t have been better. This was a point that wouldn’t have occurred to me, but as soon as he said it I could understand his point – the exposed LEDS were indeed very bright. And Mathew knows about LEDs – there are 250 shards of material in the Starburst, each of them has two LEDS, and Mathew fitted them personally.

Next up (in another post) will be the restaurants.


3 Responses to “A visit to Britannia – the Atrium”

  1. […] « A visit to Britannia – the Atrium […]

  2. Malcolm Oliver says:

    Reblogged this on Malcolm Oliver's Cruiseblog and commented:
    MY invitation to P&O’s new Britannia must have goy lost in the post, but Tom Burke’s didn’t!

  3. […] covered the atrium area and the restaurants, now it’s the turn of cabins. We visited a number of these, of various […]

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