On a bright sunny Tuesday morning, I find myself with a throng of ladies in colourful hats and fascinators and men in smart suits queuing on the dock beside P&O’s Britannia Cruise Ship. We were on our way to the stands for the official naming ceremony by Her Majesty The Queen.
There is an air of excitement as Rob Brydon warms up the crowd with a few nautical jokes and introduces a few “Godmothers” to other P&O ships like Darcy Bussell. The Royal Marines and the Irish Guards marching bands kicked off the suitable pomp. The crowd went crazy over the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, a band of hunky Scots in kilts playing Queen songs on bagpipes.
The Queen arrives with Prince Philip and after she declares “I name this ship Britannia, ‘God bless her and all who sail in her” a nebuchadnezzar (20 bottles) of English sparkling wine from the Wiston Estate Winery exploded in a spectacular fashion against the side of the ship (see video) amid a sea of red, white and blue confetti.
The VIP party embarks on a tour of the ship while the rest of us file back in for a very lovely lunch. See below.
You can see a picture tour of Britannia here.
The Britannia Naming Ceremony
A First Look Inside Britannia and Preparations for the Inaugural Celebrations
The day before the naming ceremony, Britannia was abuzz with last minute preparations for the naming ceremony and the Gala dinner. It was very exciting to be one of the first people to stay on board the new ship before its maiden voyage. Following their guide, we spent all afternoon exploring every nook and cranny of the ship, stopping for some of Eric Lanlard’s cakes at the Market Deli cafe along the way. Olympians, TV stars, celebrity chefs and other beautiful people gathered in the Atrium for the black tie gala dinner.
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This was the menu for the gala dinner with contributions from the Food Heroes.
Atul Kochhar’s Chicken Tikka Makhan Masala
James Martin’s Bourbon whisky and vanilla cured salmon
Marco Pierre White’s romney Salt marsh Lamb Loin Dijonnaise
Eric Lanlard’s Trip of Desserts
Charlie Tunrbull’s Artisan British Cheese
Olly Smith’s choice of Pomona Cider Brandy
A pictorial tour of Cruise Ship Britannia
This ship is enormous. There are 17 decks, 13 restaurants, 13 bars, 936 seat theatre, four pools, sports arena, a medispa, kids club, a gym, library, shops and cabins that can accommodate up to 3647 passengers. It is easy to forget that you are not in a hotel on land but in a massive cruise ship.
Celebrating Iconic British Design
Richmond International were tasked with designing every aspect of the ship. The stunning Atrium at the centre of the ship on Deck 5 is like a hotel lobby and is flanked by 3 levels of shop, cafes and bars, reachable by the spiral staircase. The space is dominated by this 8m tall Starbust sculpture chandelier (designed by Jona Hoad Design). The stylish sitting area acts like a hub for passengers.
Over £1m of Original Art by British Artists
Over 600 pieces of art throughout the ship and mostly by British Artists.
A very nice lunch followed the naming ceremony at the Oriental Restaurant with a very good bottle of P&O’s own label white wine.
A look inside the cabins on Britannia
The accommodation is very comfortable with nice firm beds, fluffy pillows and White Company toiletries. The balconies have a table and 2 chairs to enjoy the sea air. Since we were docked (at the very dock where the Titanic set sail from) and with our cabin overlooking the stands for the ceremony, we didn’t get to try this out. We did however get an early peek at the show as all the entertainers decided to rehearse right below our balcony at 6am.
Lots of Entertainment Choices on Board the Britannia
The main attraction for a lot of the cruises this year are the ones where one of the Food Heroes will be on board teaching at the Cookery Club. . It’s a stunning space for a cookery school on Deck 17. It has a capacity for 24 students and every work station is equipped with a Kitchen Aid. The Food Heroes are Atul Kochhar, Marco Pierre White, Eric Lanlard, Charlie Turnbull and Olly Smith. Mary Berry is due to be teaching on one of the cruises this year too.
Their pristine new gym is right next door to the Cookery Club. There is a well equipped gym and exercise room and it all smelt brand new. All the running machines face outwards and have fantastic views. The machines were brand new and not a drop of sweat has been spilled on those pristine running machines. I didn’t bring my workout gear but it would have fun to have a workout in a brand new gym.
They have a kids’ club caters to children of all ages, from babies to teens. The teenagers have a cosy lounge with sofas, computer games, pool tables and even a dance floor. They even have their own terrace to hide away from the grown ups.
For more grown up fun, there is a casino, slot machines, a live theatre, night clubs and bars.
The lavish and extensive spa area is on Deck 5. This is run by Medispa and besides the standard spa treatments like massages, facials, they also offer hydrotherapy and teeth whitening.
The Britannia left Southampton on its maiden voyage on 15 March and will be continuously at sea for the next 5 years. Hopefully my next stay on a cruise ship will be around the Mediterranean. For more information on all of Britannia’s destination, have a look on their website.
EatCookExplore was a guest of P&O at the Inaugural Celebrations for the Britannia Cruise Ship.