Britannia 6 July 2015

12 night British Isles cruise

Southampton, New Haven, Inverness, Kirkwall, Greenock, Liverpool, Dublin, Cork, Guernsey, Southampton 

Our fifth cruise

Britannia was our fifth cruise to sail on around the British Isles. This was our first cruise with P&O and first time around the British Isles.

Cabin

D224 – Interior cabin at the stern (front) of the ship.

Royal King Size bed, TV, telephone, minibar, bathroom with shower, vanity area and a hair-dryer.

This cabin was located near the stairs and lifts

As we was on deck …… we had …… situated above/below.

The bathroom smelt as the plastic gave off a funny smell.

Our cruise adventure log    

We booked to go on Britannia as she was new to the P&O fleet and this was her Maiden Voyage around the British Isles.

However the main reason we booked on Britannia was that we heard that James Martin was going to be on-board teaching cookery classes.  As I am a huge fan of celebrity chefs I just had to book on this cruise so as soon as the bookings were open to book for the cruise I booked.  Plus a few months later after booking we heard that also on our cruise Mary Berry and Theo Randall was also going to be on-board along with James Martin teaching. I was highly delighted as I am also a fan of Mary Berry and Theo.

Needless to say this ended up being a very foodie cruise.

Day 1 – boarding the ship at Southampton 

The day finally came after over a year and a half of waiting for this cruise.  As you can imagine I was highly excited with the thought of meeting James Martin, Mary Berry and Theo Randall and cooking along and eating with them.

First things first though before me and Jason could go out adventuring around Britannia and meeting James Martin who we had a arranged meeting with it was time to put on our life jackets and attend a fire drill.

So here it is a picture of us donning our lovely orange life jackets.

Who looks the best?

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Onto looking around Britannia.  Her interior was very modern, plenty of art work and a very British feel which made this ship different from the American cruises we have sailed on.

We also discovered Eric Lanlard’s cake’s which he sells on-board.  They were certainly special and just had to be bought and eaten.  Not once but practically everyday of the cruise.  First one to eat was the Lemon and Yuzu Tart and WOW what can I say but it was sheer bliss, tangy, lemony and sharp.

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We also went and checked out the spa area and Retreat which is a private lido area for adults with two hot tubs which a number of people can book out for the entire cruise. So as we did not have a balcony on this cruise we decided to book it. However we wish we didn’t in the end as it cost us quite a lot and we never really got to use it as it was raining for most of the two week cruise.   Luckily though we came to an arrangement and we could use the inside private spa area as well.

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So here is the moment I have been waiting for over a year and a half meeting the man himself James Martin.  It was only a brief meeting though as he had plenty to do within his few days on board as he was not staying on for the entire cruise. He was a pleasure though to meet and speak to and I could not wait to see him tomorrow and learn some skills from him.

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In the evening we was originally meant to be going to see Dean Andrews perform at The Lime Light Club but had to be moved until tomorrow. So we shifted our booking with The Epicurean to today.  Was supposed to be tomorrow for our wedding anniversary celebration but could not be helped.

The food in The Epicurean even though it looked stunning the entertainment factor of how the food was served was a real joy. We had smoked salmon carved up in front of us, steak sliced in front of us and pancakes being flared up in flames.  The food and service were both excellent and I highly recommend to book if you are looking for that something little special one night. There is a small charge to dine here.

In the evening we went along and watched a tribute to Madness and they are called Badness.  Even though they looked nothing like the members from Madness they did sing the songs really well. Me and Jason were both thoroughly impressed.

Which is your favourite Madness song?

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Upon arriving to my cabin I was expecting to see a towel animal like what I receive on Royal Caribbean but alas no towel animal just a chocolate. Highly disappointed.

Day 2 – at sea 

Today was the day for me to cook today at The Cookery Club along with James Martin, Mary Berry and other holiday makers.

Whilst I went to cook Jason went to play a few quiz’s on-board.

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James Martin firstly showed off his private knife set before starting to teach us how to cook this chicken dish along with Mary Berry.  The chicken was coated with a creamy sauce and asparagus. It was delicious and yet so simple.  So my advice is don’t buy pre-made sauce make your own instead as there is a great deal of difference.   The photo on the bottom right hand corner is my chicken dish I made.

For dessert James Martin by himself showed us how to cook profiteroles.  They were in fact easier than I thought they would be.  The bottom right hand photo in the collage below is my attempt.

Have I over done it with the chocolate?

Now it’s time to eat my creations and have a photo with the ever so lovely Mary Berry.

The Cookery Club Mary Berry July 2015

After Jason came  and met me and on the way back to the cabin so I could freshen up we bumped into Jaki Graham who was on-board Britannia as she was performing later on in the evening at The Limelight Club.   What a lovely person she is.

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When I got back to the cabin Jason had arranged for some lovely flowers to say Happy Anniversary to me.  How thoughtful.  They certainly made the room smell really nice.

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Tonight was formal night so it was on with the Tux for Jason and for me on with my cocktail dress.

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Before heading off to dine at The Limelight Club to celebrate our eighth wedding anniversary we went and watched the Captain give his welcome speech to us all.  I must admit he was impressive and came across a very lovely man so we was both happy to know that the ship was being sailed by such a nice man. We also came across a picture of the Queen as she is the Godmother of the ship. So we just had to get a photo next to the picture.

Upon entering the Limelight club we was really excited in seeing what Dean Andrews would be like as a stand up comedian and singer for the night.

We only really know of him from the series Life on Mars which is a British sitcom that we watched and nothing else.  Happily to say though we was not disappointed.  He was highly amusing and he even was a great singer.  We certainly would book to see him again in the future.

We also managed to each get a photo with him.  He was in no rush and we even had a lovely chat with him.

Plus we also got a photo with the wonderful Nick who was one of the main cruise entertainment staff which even though with this being our second day on-board Britannia we have already built up a great relationship with him.  That is though as we love going along to quiz’s so we have met and chatted with him on many occasions.

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Back to my cabin and I know there will be no towel animal but hey on the plus side there will be a chocolate.

Day 3 – New Haven / Edinburgh 

Today we decided to get a cab from New Haven to Edinburgh Zoo as I have heard so much about the panda’s and koala bears at Edinburgh Zoo I just had to go and see them as I have never seen these animals in real life before at any other zoo.  So with New Haven being so close to Edinburgh it was the perfect opportunity.

However before getting a taxi we bumped into Badness the tribute act to Madness so I just had to get a photo with them.

Badness

Plus I had to get a photo with some local Scottish people playing bagpipes.

New Haven July 2015

Firstly let me tell you a bit about Edinburgh Zoo. It is owned by The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS). The Society was founded in March 1909, and the Zoo opened in July 1913.  It is set in 82 acres of sloping parkland. There is over 1,000 rare and endangered animals at Edinburgh Zoo. So you will never get bored with so many rare animals to see.

First things first onto see the pandas in which I have been wanting to see for years and years.  They certainly did not disappoint as they were so cute and full of life from playing with each other to eating bamboo. However bear in mind usually they are very lazy we was told and usually just likes to sleep and chill.

 

The Koala was also just as cute with it’s big fluffy ears and large nose.  What a sweetie.

Edinburgh Zoo Koala July 2015

But which is best the panda or the koala?

There is also a very large penguin enclosure called Penguins Rock.  It is the largest, cleanest and most fun penguin enclosure I have ever seen.  They even have their own umbrellas to shelter under from the sun rays or rain if they wished.  There was also a number of baby penguins within the enclosure when we went.  I love this photo below of mother and baby on the top right.

Some of the penguins even get a walk during certain parts of the day.

Edinburgh Zoo penguin walk July 2015

There was even my favourite animal the pygmy hippo at this zoo. How sweet is he.  I even managed to stroke him. I know I shouldn’t but look how cute he is.

Edinburgh Zoo me with hippo July 2015

Also there is not just animals, reptiles and birds to be seen at this park but there is also a Dinosaur Park.

Question is would you be able to name all the dinosaurs in the park if you went?

There is also many carvings throughout the park.  Here are some of our favourites.

Once back on-board after having such a great time it was time to get dressed and have dinner with James Martin and Mary Berry at the Cookery Club.

Downing the Prosecco.

The Cookery Club Joanne and Jason July 2015

This is the wonderful Lizzie Kennedy who managed the Cookery School staff and over saw everything to make sure there is a smooth operation.   The Cookery Club July 2015

James Martin at work preparing our meals for tonight.

For starters we had scallops, followed on by slow cooked beef, and a caramelised pavlova.  Plus as an extra special treat his famous Monkey Bread.  The food was exceptional as well as the company.  We learn’t a lot that night about James Martin and his dog’s and his love of cars.  We also spoke a lot to Mary Berry and her sister in law about baking.

Both Mary and James was a pleasure to meet and a night that we both truly won’t ever forget.

Also we discovered the lighter side of James Martin with his scribble he done over Mary Berry. Poor Mary.  She obviously loves gin though.

The Cookery Club James Martin graffiti July 2015

With seeing both my passions today of animals and chefs this was certainly one of the best days of my whole life.

Day 4 – Inverness

Today we got off at Inverness to go on an excursion to hunt out the Nessie

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and look we found it. If you are not fully aware of the story of Nessie then click here to read more.

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After we visited the Loch Ness museum.

When we got back on-board we made most of the Retreat area even though it was cold and gloomy.

Cup of tea and cake bliss

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In the evening we ate in the main dining area.  Usually I am not a fan of eating in the main dining area which is included in the price of the cruise as usually the meals are not that great and luke warm.  However I can say I was pleasantly surprised in how the meal was in fact quite good on this occasion.  I had fish and Jason had steak. Plus we both had bread and butter pudding after.

For the rest of the night we chilled in Broadies the pub played some quiz’s there and sat back and listened to some live music played by this wonderful couple Matt and Sarah.

Mat and Sarah

Day 5 – Kirkwall

We did not get off today as we wanted to make the most of the entertainment and facilities on-board.

So we played some games such as Wii bowling today and quiz’s with the wonderful Wez.

Sat back and had some ciders and beer as there is over 80 different types to try on-board Britannia.

We even went and made use of the inside spa/retreat area along with a massage.

For the evening we went to the main dining area again to eat and again I had fish and Jason had a curried beef dish. Was quite tasty.

After we went and watched a show.

Day 6 – at sea

We was at sea today so we mainly played some games and quiz’s.

First thing’s first though Eric Lanlard cake for the morning.

These ones looked spectacular and tasted as always great.

For lunchtime we ate in the Sindu which is designed by Atul Kochhar.  Lunch was tapas style food but tasted really good and not too spicy at all quite mild in fact which is a relief as I don’t really like spicy food.

We then went and played the roulette at the casino which we done really well at.

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For dinner we ate in the main dining area. I ordered a mild chicken curry and Jason had steak and we ordered a nice bottle of Rose. The meals were quite nice.

In the evening we went back to Broadies and yes you guessed it played more quiz’s, listened to Matt and Sarah and drank more cider and beer.

Day 7 – Greenock 

Today we got off and went on a tour bus to see the sights of Greenock. Lives up to it’s name for certainly was green and beautiful.

Before getting back on-board I just had to get snapped with these bagpipe players.

For lunch we ate at the Glass House and had some Fish and Chips. The food was amazing and piping hot, fresh and very tasty.  So if you want a great piping hot lunch I highly recommend eating at the Glass House you can even get a row of mini burgers if you wanted.

For the evening we went and watched a show and it was mainly based on fairy-tales. Was quite entertaining.

For our dinner tonight we ate at the Beach House.  The kebab is huge and the steak you can cook to how you desire on the sizzling slab.  The food is hot and superb.  Also the Beach House no matter where you sit you will always get a great view.  There is a slight extra charge though for this service but it seriously is worth it.

Sizzling steak or kebab which would you have?

Day 8 – Liverpool

Tonight we arrived in Liverpool and Jason being a Beatles fan was quite excited.  However was he as excited as this man who was waving frantically at Britannia as we sailed on by to dock. Made me laugh.

When we got off I just had to get snapped with these people.

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Firstly we went and visited the The Cavern Club which is a famous small club where The Beatles made fame. Jason was in his element looking and reading all about The Beatles.

After we went onto visit The Beatles Story which is a museum that displays lot’s of Beatle history and memorabilia from their guitars to John Lennon’s piano.   Jason even met Julia Baird, John Lennon’s younger half sister.

After we then went and saw the famous Penny Lane sign that is sung in one of the Beatles songs and saw the houses in which Paul McCartney and John Lennon grew up. Again Jason was in his element.

After such a fun day we decided to be a bit nuts and go to the Retreat and adult pool area in the rain.

Upon leaving Liverpool I just had to take a photo of Britannias upper deck as it looked stunning.

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This evening we went and ate in the Sindhu. There is a charge but it is worth it. As I mentioned before all the dishes are designed by Atul Kochhar a Michelin starred chef from the UK. The chefs on-board recreate the dishes which they learnt from Atul. As the food is exceptional and all presented really well.

This evening for the evening entertainment in the theatre Sam Bailey of X-Factor performed.  We did not watch all as she does not appeal to us but everyone who does like her was enjoying it.  We went and played some more quiz’s and had a flutter in the casino.

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Day 9 – Dublin

This is a view of Dublin upon entering the harbour.

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We decided to go on a tour to see the famous Guinness Factory.  On the way though we stopped off at this beautiful church.

When we finally arrived at the Guinness Factory we was over joyed as this would be our first ever pint that is produced in Dublin and right from the brewery itself.

The factory was interesting with so much history and things to do from playing a harp and sniffing Guinness vapour but the main thing about visiting here was to taste some Guinness. It did not disappoint as it was cold, smooth and certainly the best place that you can ever taste it.

Whilst at the factory we also got to pour a pint each.

Who’s pint looks the best?

Once back on-board we both had another piece of Eric Lanlard’s cake this time a chocolate moose.

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The entertainment for this evening was a ventriloquist.

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In the evening we ate in the main dining area and we both had the salmon, followed by beef pie and a meringue dessert .

 

Then you guessed it was onto Broadies for more cider and beer and quiz fun.

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Day 10 – Cork

We decided to get off and explore Cork ourselves today rather than an excursion with P&O.

Firstly we went on a mini train which took us around part of Cork.DSC00423

We then went to the Titanic Museum and learn’t more about Titanic. I was surprised in how small the cabins were on-board Titanic. Certainly in this case if you had money and you could afford the more luxurious cabins they were worth it, Nowadays on-board any cruise it does not matter if you have an interior, balcony or a suite as they are all lovely and have reasonable size space.

There are also plenty of statues around Cork all in relation to Titanic.

In the afternoon with this being the only nice sunny day we have had whilst sailing Britannia around the British Isles we made the most of the Retreat area and drank some tea.

This evening we went and dined with the ever so lovely Theo Randall. If you don’t know who Theo Randall is he is the head chef of Theo Randall’s Intercontinental in London’s Park Lane.

I am quite a fan of Theo so he recognised me instantly which was lovely.

On the night he cooked cappuccino, sea bass and chocolate cake.  Needless to say it was all delicious.

He also signed one of his cookery books which I purchased on-board.

Plus we both had to get a photo with him obviously.

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The waiting staff also as usual he served us before when we dined with James Martin and Mary Berry were lovely and very accommodating like usual.

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Day 11 – at sea 

Today I went along to cook with Theo Randall.

First dish he taught me and others was how to make pasta and cook it using courgette. It was amazing and very fresh and the pasta literally took minutes to cook.  However I have not unfortunately been able to recreate the pasta at home it keeps going wrong.

Next he taught us how to cut a Guinea Fowl and how to stuff it and make it look presentable.  Click here to see a similar recipe of which I made that day.

Afterwards I just had to get yet another photo with him to add to my other numerous past photos I have had with Theo.

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For the afternoon we had a Eric Lanlard’s afternoon tea. Needless to say the cakes and sandwiches were delicious but as I had eaten a Guinea Fowl and pasta before hand I was far too stuffed to eat everything. Poor Jason ended up eating most of them and then getting far too stuffed for dinner.

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In the evening we went and played some Bingo drawn by the lovely Wez.

Then in the evening we went along to the main dining room and had a Beef Wellington and Baked Alaska. Thankfully we both managed to eat it even though we were both stuffed.  The Wellington was cooked to perfection and the Baked Alaska was great.  This meal was certainly one of the best meals we ate in the dining area.

For the rest of the evening we went to Broadies and played some more quiz’s hosted by Nick.

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Day 12 – Guernsey 

Today we got off and went exploring. We came across this lovely Candie Gardens which was full of lovely colourful flowers and numerous statues with moss over them making them very pretty and picturesque.

We even came across a V.R. post box.

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On the harbour near the cruise there was also a Castle called Castle Cornet so we paid and went exploring.  We learn’t about the history of the castle and saw many uniforms, guns, posters, etc. within the museum.

We also had some fun with the views of Britannia from Castle Cornet and played with the cannons and balls.

I think Jason has dropped his balls.

As this was the last port of call upon leaving the port we had one final sail away party which we all got a flag and waved it in the air and singing to some British tunes along with the entertainment staff.

Not where’s Wally but where’s Joanne?

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We ate again this evening in the Beach House.  I had sizzling steak again and Jason had a burger. Fantastic food like usual.

For the final quiz of tonight Jason played The Pursuit which is very much like the chase. He ended up doing really well and he ended up winning it.

What a way to end the cruise.

A winner just like Britannia as you won’t be disappointed.

Day 13 – disembarking Southampton 

In disembarking Britannia she will be a holiday I will never ever forget with so many fond memories of cooking and dining with the great chefs James Martin, Mary Berry and Theo Randall and finally seeing a real life panda and koala.

Highlights and negatives

Highlights

  • Cooking and dining with James Martin, Mary Berry and Theo Randall
  • Eating all of Eric Lanlard’s cakes
  • Meeting and being entertained by the wonderful entertainment grew Nick, Wezz, Matt and Sarah
  • Meeting Jaki Graham
  • Meeting Dean Andrews
  • Eating at The Epicurean on board
  • Seeing where the Beatles Paul and John used to live
  • Going to Edinburgh Zoo and seeing a panda and koala
  • Having a pint of Guinness in Dublin

Negatives

  • The weather but that is an act of god so not P&O’s fault
  • The bathroom smelt

Tips

Take air freshener for the toilet as the plastic smells

 

As we took this cruise many years ago and we was not writing a blog back then we have not got a complete log of our trip so this is written by memory.

Have you sailed on Britannia?

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