At the back end of August, my family and I spent a week on the beautiful P&O flagship cruise ship, Britannia. For all you lovely scoundrels that have been following me on Instagram and Twitter, you’ll have seen some of my latest adventures. Here’s how it went…
P&O Britannia Cruise Ship
The flagship ship inspired by their past. Designed for the future. There has never been a more stylish way to see the world! Nothing beats the feeling of stepping on board a new ship for the first time, and whether you are new to cruising, or a veteran of the high seas, your moments on board P&O’s new cruise ship, Britannia, designed by world-leading interior design experts, are sure to be truly memorable. Designed for the modern British holidaymaker combining the excitement of cruising with the sophistication of a five-star hotel, Britannia isn’t just the biggest ship ever built exclusively for the British market – she’s the most glamorous too. Your first moments on board are sure to be truly memorable as the spectacular ‘starburst’ centrepiece of her atrium comes into view.
Britannia Family, Friends & Fashion
My family is a strong unit, we always go on at least one holiday together each year. After a four-year absence from the cruise scene, we returned to Britannia and can honestly say it is our favourite family holiday! It’s lovely to see my family relax and embrace different places. They all work hard and deserve every bit of time off they get!
As for friends, I met plenty. On a cruise, I seem to be in my element. Maybe it’s because I’m a Piscean, but I just tend to get along with everybody when on a cruise, I have no problems with walking over to a stranger and striking up a conversation. From the first evening, I had people to talk too. My usual ritual would be to go to the casino on board, play poker, head to the late night bar and join up with my new pals. It was great, what more could a guy ask for?
As for fashion, I took a heck of a lot of clothes with me. As you know from this blog, I adore smart wear and believe every man should strive to dress his best as often as possible. Therefore every evening you’d find me in a suit/ jacket, shirt and smart trousers. My favourite nights were absolutely the black tie nights where I got to express my style with a tuxedo. This is one of the many reasons why I love cruising!
The weather was unreal whilst onboard, reaching highs of 35degrees! Our cruise was quite simply named ‘France, Spain and Guernsey’. The ports we visited were La Rochelle, a medieval city that offers an intriguing mix of well preserved and restored historic buildings and marketplaces within a lively modern city full of bars and restaurants and with an excellent aquarium. Tickle your taste buds with a visit to the small town of Cognac and its famous Courvoisier, Hennessy and Martell cellars. Along the way, you will pass through ancient towns like Saintes with Romanesque churches, arches and arenas.
La Coruna (the closest European port to New York) is a charming mixture of old town and new town also with a couple of beaches along the two-mile stretch of coastline it overlooks. The collonaded Maria Pita Square is at the heart of the old town, with many shops, bars and restaurants all around. There are various fascinating museums including the interactive House of Mankind plus an aquarium and planetarium. Coruna is also the main Atlantic gateway to one of the most ruggedly scenic regions in Spain – Galicia. Among its attractions is one of the worlds great pilgrimage destinations: Santiago de Compostela, with its Romanesque cathedral.
Bilbao, the Basque city and cruise port of Bilbao in northern Spain has become one of the hottest destinations in Europe following the opening of the imaginatively-designed Guggenheim modern art gallery, which is an architectural work of avant-garde art in its own right. Until then, Bilbao was very much a working city but it has always boasted a lively old town dating from the 14th century. Through the winding alleyways of the Casco Viejo, you can stop to sample tapas at the many exceptional local bars and restaurants. Other sights include the arcaded Plaza Nueva and the Gothic Cathedral de Santiago. One of Spain’s most important art collections is housed across the city at the Museo de Bellas Artes. This features works dating from the 12th century through to contemporary art by Cezanne, Gauguin and Francis Bacon.
Finally, St. Peter Port, A busy port since Roman times and one-time home of Victor Hugo, Guernsey’s capital, St Peter Port, is the prettiest town in the Channel Islands with fine Georgian and Regency houses, tumbling terraced gardens, winding streets and hidden leafy alleyways. The best way to discover the true beauty of Guernsey is on foot, exploring the Ruettes – tranquil, quiet lanes that are dedicated to walkers, cyclists and horse riders. History lovers will be in their element exploring Castle Cornet, the last Royalist stronghold of the English Civil War and now home to several museums and theatrical events. Fort Grey was a bastion against Napoleon and is now a fascinating Shipwreck Museum while the German Occupation Museum gives a vivid account of island life during WWII. When you have finished sightseeing, do leave time for shopping, as Duty-Free Guernsey offers some of the world’s best bargains on cameras and electrical goods, jewellery, perfume and wine (please note opening times might change during the weekend).
Boy oh, boy was the food great on Britannia! I’m not the best when it comes to eating as I like food to be straightforward and simple, with not too much razzmatazz! Every evening on board you’re served with a wonderful 5-course meal in your chosen restaurant, the food in these places is second to none and the service is stupendous! If you fancy a venture out from the norm, you can book into one of the other restaurants on board. In the images below, you can see we sampled The Limelight Club, which was a beautiful venue that combined a set menu along with a dazzling performance from Jaki Graham. Other places we visited were The Beach Hut, which is kind of like an American restaurant, in here we sampled the steak cooked on a stone, fajitas and the nachos. All tasting wonderful, leaving us feeling well and truly stuffed!
Finally, we sampled Olly Smith’s The Glass House which is a stylish and relaxed restaurant and bar where we tried a glass (or two) of handpicked wine and tapas. A must when on board Britannia!
Britannia Food Hero – Eric Lanlard
P&O Cruises joined forces with a number of high profile food and drink connoisseurs known as ‘Food Heroes’. I was fortunate enough to have one of these food heroes aboard Britannia whilst I was on my holiday. Eric Lanlard, the master patissier and creator of Cake Boy joined us from Bilbao and boy was it great to meet him, such a lovely guy! Eric has his own special part of the ship known as the ‘Market Cafe’, that serves beautifully crafted cakes which go perfectly with a cuppa tea or coffee at any time during the day. On 4 of the 7 days, I was aboard I replaced my usual Full English buffet breakfast with one of Eric’s tasty Market Cafe treats. I tasted the superb cheesecake and as you can see from the image below, the gigantic (but delectable) red velvet cake! I shall be paying Eric’s luxury but relaxed cake boutique CAKE BOY a visit very soon in South West London.
With all that said, I’d like to round this post off with a little bit of encouragement. If you’re reading this and considering a P&O Cruise… Do it! They cater for all audiences. The service is impeccable, the choice is outstanding and the locations are superb. I give it my highest recommendations. And with that, thank you for reading.