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Unread 9 Sep 19, 02:50 PM  
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SquishTheWhale
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Just back from the Fjords with P&O

Just came back on Saturday from a 7 night cruise with P&O on Britannia to the Fjords. Hoping a little summary can help some people! This was out 6th cruise but 1st with P&O.

Ship
Britannia looked lovely and I'm surprised she's due a re fit next month. Very modern and clean. She's a bit small for our tastes, especially on a cold weather cruise as without the use of the outside space it becomes crowded inside. Last cruise we were on the Crown Princess and it didn't feel as crowded despite her being a little smaller as it was hot weather so people were out on deck. And the cold weather cruise we did on the NCL Epic was a larger ship so it felt like there was more to do inside. I think when Iona is built she will be a lot better for the Fjords with the inside pool etc.

We struggled with the layout even right up until the last day- normally on a ship when you come out of a stairwell/lift area you can turn left or right and go forward or aft. Not on Britannia, most times you can only go forward or aft at one side. We clearly never got our heads around this as it continued to confuse us!
The fact there was lifts but no stairs midship was also annoying as we are perfectly mobile and didn't need to use the lifts unless going many floors, but you had no choice if you were midship.

Cabin
We were in a standard inside on deck 12, my sister's family had a larger inside and my parents had a balcony on deck 15. All cabins were absolutely fine and our inside felt fairly spacious. Very clean and modern again with lots of storage. The bed was fine but not as comfy as the amazing beds on Princess. The shower was very large and had a glass screen instead of the dreaded clingy curtain, great water pressure too.
We really liked that the TV and movies were on demand rather than on a loop, as a couple of nights we fancied a movie in bed and didn't have to watch from half way through. It would be nice to have the facility to view your account from the TV like on most other ships we've been on.

Entertainment
We did not think much of the entertainment team- couldn't tell you the name of the cruise director and when I tried to watch some shows that he hosted I got bored as he wasn't charismatic or funny. Not up to the standard of the team on the American lines who are full of energy and seem to be everywhere on the ship at once.
We enjoyed the shows we saw in the theatre with the headliner performers. Our favourite show was Astonishing, however we cannot help but compare it negatively to Magic To Do on Princess which has a very similar format but a whole other level of production.
The other entertainment didn't float our boat and seemed aimed at the older generation when it came to quizzes and talks etc. They had a good band playing in the Live Lounge most nights but it was SO loud. Maybe everyone else on the cruise has already gone deaf but we'd prefer to leave with some of our ear drums in tact. We just couldn't sit in there and listen.
Sometimes we struggled for things to do on sea days which is really unlike us on a cruise.

Service
Some really lovely staff and mostly a great level of service. However sadly the same cannot be said for the MDR waiters which seemed to be where they send all the grumpy ones. I don't ask a lot, but a simple 'what would you like to order' rather than standing silently with a notepad glaring at us is a start. My sister asked some questions one meal about an ingredient she didn't recognise and the waiter really did not want to find out what it was. The main method of communication seemed to be grunting.

My mum took my little nephew to the kids club a couple of times and she said the staff in there were very good. We also found the front desk staff helpful and friendly.

Our cabin steward was great and we saw him every day without him being in the way. However my parents didn't see theirs once.

Food
A mixed bag. We really enjoyed the freshly made pizza on the pool deck and DH liked the grill with pizzas and burgers. The buffet didn't have as much variety compared to the likes of NCL where it seems endless, but what was there was generally very good. Some temperature issues but you get that with buffets. You'd occasionally come across something like a curry that was very very good. Breakfast was good and it's the little things like nice quality sausages that make a difference. The one thing I missed was peanut butter, on our last cruise I had a bagel and peanut butter nearly every morning! Will take my own jar if we ever go on her again lol.
Only water was available in the machines outside of breakfast time, it's nice on NCL that they also offer flavoured waters and still lemonade etc. However the drinks prices on P&O are reasonable so I guess it makes up for it.

I wasn't very impressed with the MDR food, it was fine but often it seemed like the buffet would have been a better option. Which is a shame as we enjoy the atmosphere of the MDR and normally eat there every night. I was hoping for the traditional lobster and baked Alaska in the MDR on formal night but nope In fact the 'gala' nights the menu was no more special than any other night. I'm not an old fashioned cruiser by any means but where's my baked Alaska, lol!

Overall the food was fine but nothing to write home about- unlike the chocolate journeys dessert on Princess or the Mexican buffet on NCL that DH still raves about. You certainly won't go hungry though.

Ports
Stavanger
Really enjoyed this port, it was raining in the morning so we went to the oil and gas museum which DH loved. Even I found it tolerable. In the afternoon we walked around the pretty streets and parks and saw the old town.

Flam
The highlight of the cruise for us, absolutely stunning scenery, the air is so clean and crisp and there's loads to do even though it's a tiny place. We took the shuttle bus to Viking Valley which we all loved and could have stayed longer at. The setting is just magical. We also did the little land train that takes you up into the hills so you can see the rest of flam, I could take or leave doing that again. My parents did the Fjords cruise and loved it. There's quite a lot in the port itself with shops, cafes, a little food truck area and walks around the bay. Of course there is the famous train you can do as well- don't book through the ship and pay over the odds!

Olden
Our least favourite port, nothing to do in port even though it's larger than Flam. Maybe we are biased because it was grey and raining but not as pretty as Flam either. We did the land train because my nephew wanted to but it was a bit meh. I think to get the most out of Olden you need to book one of the expensive excursions to the glacier or sky lift. We might have been tempted by the sky lift but it wasn't a clear day and its very expensive.

Bergen
A very interesting city to explore but sadly with a sail away time of 2.30pm you just don't have enough time. Should be swapped so you have a full day here and half day at Olden. We did the funicular, rushed to get there early in the morning as we'd read horror stories about queues but even when we came down there wasn't a queue. Loved the area at the top with the woods and the views. We also explored the Bryggen which was very interesting but with 4 ships in port totally over crowded.

For each port we made sandwiches the day before from the 10pm snacks buffet, we brought sandwich bags on board. This saved us a fortune over the Norwegian food prices. My parents also took off hot tea in chillys bottles to save them having to buy cuppas. I would highly recommend doing this as it really is expensive (we poked our head into a Mcdonalds out of curiosity and it was 12 for a meal!)

Other
We did a cooking class on Britannia at the cookery club and it was well run and great fun. We did the Macarons one where we made two different kinds of macaron and some madelines. Well worth the money.

Overall impressions
We had a good cruise and loved seeing Norway. The price was very reasonable. However we'd put P&O towards the bottom of our cruise line ranking, just because the entertainment and food didn't wow us. We won't be cruising for a few years as we have a little one on the way, but when we do our next one will definitely be with Royal Caribbean. We've come to understand the ship board experience is very important to us, it's not just a way to get between ports. However, if you're not that bothered about the ship then it's definitely a cost effective line to travel with.

Any questions about the ship or itinerary let me know!
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Unread 9 Sep 19, 05:45 PM  
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Loopylooloo
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Great report, glad you enjoyed it, even if the ship wasnt quite to your taste, its always good to try different ships and lines, until you find your favourite. Thanks for sharing!
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Unread 9 Sep 19, 06:47 PM  
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Thank you so much for reporting back with your thoughts. Sounds like RC is defo a better fit for you both, but you got to visit some beautiful places at a good price - and well done on making sandwiches - inspired!

We're DCL stalwarts as you know but are book to go on Celebrity next October with my sister as she keeps badgering us to join her.
The worst that can happen is we don't do it again but we're actually really looking forward to it.

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Unread 9 Sep 19, 07:06 PM  
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For me only reason I go with p&o is the price really. They are cheap.

How did you manage with the sickness etc?
Been wondering when youd be back cos I know youve had this cruise booked a while
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Unread 9 Sep 19, 07:09 PM  
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BevS97
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We enjoyed our p and o cruise but agree with all of your points.

I believe they leave Bergen early because of the tides and a low bridge.


We also really enjoyed the cooking class. We did the family class which was pasta and cakes. Really well organised and good fun.
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Unread 9 Sep 19, 07:40 PM  
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Thanks for a great review. It seems we had a slightly better experience on the Ventura Fjords cruise in June. I can see how a half day in Bergen is disappointing- we had a full day (5pm departure). Your point about service on board echoed our experience exactly - service just wasnt sharp enough, especially in dining areas. Not a patch on, say, Princess or any of the US lines I guess. We thought the food was fine and I cant remember a disappointing dish.
Totally agree with your comments about the lack of a central staircase - it was a design disaster - same issue on sister ships the Royal and Regal Princess. The staircases are there, just not fitted out. The Royal Princess was going into dry dock when it would be refitted (might have been done) hopefully P&O will do it on the Britannia.
For future reference there is a service bus that goes from Olden to the Briksdal glacier for a fraction of the cost of the ship or local transfer.
From Stavanger, a short bus ride to Sverd i Fjell is worthwhile (only takes an hour or so overall) - its a gorgeous spot and beautiful monument.
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Unread 9 Sep 19, 07:52 PM  
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Sounds like a nice cruise. Your comparison of P&O versus NCL pretty much sums up my thoughts too. We've got Britannia booked for next August and it was a great deal but just having come back from NCL I'm just not that enthused about P&O and funnily enough when advert has just come on TV my 13 year old has just said he's not that keen on P&O anymore. The kids like NCL and RCI more these days - and even Princess. First world problems! With the free drinks and dining package NCL is hard to beat for us and we love the informality and more lively entertainment.
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Unread 9 Sep 19, 07:55 PM  
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I believe Britannia is having a refit in mid October - we are doing a 2 night trip to Bruges on the 23rd Oct which is its first trip after the refit. I saw on a cruise forum someone said they thought the central staircase was being opened up to the public as part of the refit.
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