Monday, 23 July 2018

A week away

It seemed like it had been a long time since Sue and I had been on a cruise (it isn't; it just felt like it!), so we decided to take a week-long one aboard the only ship in P&O's fleet that we had not been on ... MV Britannia.

MV Britannia. (Original image © Brian Burrell)
Britannia is big ... much bigger than any previous cruise ship we had been on. Her characteristics are as follows:
  • Tonnage: 143,730 gross tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 1,083' (330m)
    • Beam: 144' (44m)
    • Height: 232' (70.67m))
    • Draft: 28' (8.3m)
  • Decks: 15 passenger decks
  • Installed power:
  • Propulsion: 2 x Wärtsilä 12V46F & 2 x Wärtsilä 14V46F diesel engines powering 2 x VEM Sachsenwerk GMBH electric motors with a total shaft power 36,000kW.
  • Speed: 21.9 knots
  • Passenger capacity: 3,647
  • Crew: 1,398 officers and crew
One of the reasons we had avoided cruises on Britannia was her size, but in the end we decided to give her a try. We chose to go on a cruise that only lasted a week and that was just before the school holidays started in England.

(She is described as being 'family friendly', and after careers in education we did not want to spend our holiday on a ship that could easily have several hundred children and their parents aboard. This might sound curmudgeonly, but once parents realise that you have been a teacher, all they want to do is to talk about how good/bad their child's education is. That's not our idea of a holiday!)

The cruise took us to:
  • St Peter Port, Guernsey (Day 2)
  • La Coruña, Galicia, Spain (Day 4)
  • Santander, Asturias, Spain (Day 5)
  • La Rochelle, France (Day 6)

I will be writing a more detailed blog about our cruise in the very near future ... but first we have to unpack!


  1. Bob,
    Evelyn and I did that same cruise a good few years ago, but on a different ship!
    I can sympathise with your comments about holidaying with large numbers of children; I, too, prefer not to be in the company of large numbers of children over whom I have no authority or right to exercise some control - and sometimes wonder how I did deal with whole classes, which I certainly couldn't face doing now.
    On the other hand, I'm still very happy doing one to one tuition, where there is no 'crowd control' - or Ofsted! - and one can create a more relaxed, friendly/cooperative relationship with pupils.

    That ship looks far too big for my taste. To paraphrase Samuel Johnson, 'Cruising is like being trapped in a shopping mall, with the added danger of drowning.'


    1. Arthur Harman (Arthur),

      Even on this cruise there were one or two occasions when I had to remind myself that I was no longer a teacher, and that I did not have the right - and responsibility - to enforce discipline on other peoples' ill-mannered and badly behaved children. (Some of the adults could have done with a talking to about respecting others, especially when it came to talking to the staff. Unthinking rudeness appears to be an affliction from which some members of society suffer.)

      On this cruise we had a suite. This had several advantages, including being able to eat breakfast in a separate restaurant and to eat meals in our suite if we wanted to. The latter was not necessary, even though the butler encouraged us to. (I suspect that he was worried that he wasn't going to do enough to warrant an end-of-cruise gratuity.) We were always able find somewhere quiet to sit whenever we needed to, and the ship did not feel anywhere near as crowded as we had expected it to be.

      I suspect that your 'quote' from Samuel Johnson might be very true of some of the American cruise ships, but less so about more traditional UK cruise ships.

      All the best,


  2. Hi Bob,

    Welcome back! I agree with the whole children thing (although not because of having been in education) - which is why we always book adult only and as an extra insurance usually go away when they are still in school!

    I shall look forward to reading the full post in due course.

    All the best,


    1. David Crook,

      It was a great cruise, but it is nice to get home.

      Once you reach an age when your children are old enough not to have to holiday with their parents, cruising can be a great way to go places ... but preferably without other peoples' children! Adult-only and going out of school holidays can be so restful ... and cheaper!

      What's not to like?

      All the best,


  3. Replies
    1. Geordie an Exile FoG,

      It was a very nice cruise ... and relatively cool compared to the UK.

      All the best,


  4. BOB,
    Looking forward to your full Report on cruising on the MV BRITANNIA...our first cruise was aboard the 'Pacific SKY' to New Caladonia - a much smaller ship than MV BRITANIA. Later on a larger ship the 'Pacific PRINCESS', I was amazed that the ship wasn't crowded- the passengers seemed to disappear...I remember on several occasions on the way around New Zealand being the only Passenger on the Top Deck around 9:00pm onwards- with the company of the Three Outdoor Bar Saff...I had the Ship all to myself. Regards. KEV.

    1. Kev Robertson,

      The pool areas on most cruise ships always seem to be crowded during the day ... but empty first thing in the morning or from early evening onwards. Likewise many of the open deck areas seem to be relatively empty unless you want a sunbed. Sue and I were in an open deck area at about 7.30pm, and like you, the only people present were bar staff and us,

      All the best,


  5. We did a cruise on a bigger boat than that round the Gulf. It was run by an Italian cruise line, and was certainly aimed at families. In practice it wasn't an issue except you couldn't get at the pool areas at all. The facilities were excellent, (the theatre at he bow end was bigger than most provincial theatres) although the stuff were a bit inattentive in the bars some times.

    The only time we had issues with crowding was when we had to queue to pay off the bill at the end of the trip.

    1. Trebian,

      I assume that you travelled on a Costa Cruises ship. They are part of the same Carnival Cruises 'fleet', and from the main deck downwards many of them are the same design as similar-sized P&O, Cunard, Holland-America, and Carnival.

      My only experience has been on P&O ships carrying British families. The vast majority of the latter make ideal travelling companions, but the few that aren't can have a disproportionately adverse effect on the enjoyment of other passengers.

      Luckily P&O have a different method for passengers paying their on-board bills. You register a credit or debit card when you board, and the balance of your on-board bill is automatically deducted at the end of the cruise. Because we had quite a lot of on-board spending credit, our bill for the cruise was just over £50.00.

      All the best,