Saturday, 25 April 2015

“Britannia” Cruise – the last half!

Computer failure over the last week has resulted in this mammoth blog entry - being written as Britannia, with fog horn sounding, enters the English Channel and on route for Southampton cruise terminal on Saturday morning.

Having “done” Rome the previous day we decided to have a relaxed wander around Livorno on Saturday. Livorno is the port closest to Pisa (which we visited last year) and Florence (which we decided to leave for another time) and is a pleasant town……..


…… with typical Italian architecture ………


…… some of the best of which is found in some of the back streets.


On Sunday, due to circumstances beyond the control of P&O (not all of us believe them!), we found ourselves in Ajaccio, Corsica rather than Monte Carlo. For us it was marvellous as we were in Monte Carlo last year and have never set foot in Corsica before.


Ajaccio is famous for being the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte and it’s difficult not to be constantly reminded of the fact. He’s depicted as a roman emperor.


Ajaccio is very beautiful in the usual antiquated narrow side streets …..


…….. with much care and dedication being paid to the appearance of the place.


The cathedral square is very pleasant …….


……. and, down the Rue Bonaparte is, of course his birthplace.


If we’d visited Monte Carlo we wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of Ajaccio’s gorgeous beach and the wonderful sunshine to begin this year’s suntan.


Britannia completely dwarfed Ajaccio’s little harbour – in fact, the ship stuck out from it’s berth so much that it had to deploy the anchor to keep the front end from swinging about!


Just give an idea of the size of Britannia, here’s a couple of deck hands cleaning the rear skirt.

Monday saw us in Barcelona and, having visited a few times already, we decided to have a gentle wander around and to take in some of this city’s beauty by looking upwards for a change ………


…. the stunning buildings and their rooflines speak for themselves:-




What about this for an anti-pigeon device!



One of Gaudi’s less famous roof lines …….


…….. and, with a zoom in from our ship’s balcony, is the roof line of his most famous construction, the Sagrada Familia.


Next, and the last port of call, on Tuesday was Valencia.  The old city is very lovely indeed ………..


……… with amazing buildings ……..


and stunning open squares.

P1010650The covered market building is also very beautiful ………..


……. and inside, neatness of display is the order of the day.


The Great British Sail-Away took place as we left Valencia for the three day trip back to Southampton. We had the most tremendous time during the trip with cruise friends Jill and Bill and their family: Sarah and partner Ben and John and partner Jane.


Our passage through the Straits of Gibraltar was as smooth as silk – the lower tip of Spain can just be seen through the heat haze.

P1010671Here we all are again on Thursday evening – our ‘last supper’ together and, as  the penultimate night, ………


…….it was the Chef’s Parade! We had the treat of the Executive Chef and the two senior chefs next to our table ……


…. and, as is customary, diners waves their napkins in appreciation as most of the 140+ chefs on board march through  each dining room in turn.


After Thursday evening’s dinner show we spent a while in the Atrium ……


…… with friend, and entertainments officer, Laurie Evans who, together with all the other members of the team, have made our cruise aboard Britannia such a hoot.


Oh all right then, another pic!, this time just of the terrible two together with  ……


…….. the fantastic and (we guess) tremendously expensive “Starburst” – the centrepiece of the Atrium.

Well, our cruise on the beautiful new “Britannia” came to end with an early and very easy disembarkation this morning (Saturday) and we’re now safe back at home doing all the washing and ironing!

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Britannia Cruise ….the Story So Far

Our first land-fall of the cruise was good old Gibraltar …..


…..and, during our short 5 hour stopover, we were joined by Laurie –friend and one of the ship’s entertainment team, who does his job for us both on and off the ship! 


The lovely Casemates Square at the bottom of Gibraltar High Street overlooked by the Rock.


“Britannia”, flying the flag with P&O’s new colours, welcomes us back on board.


A rather cloudy “Rock” as we leave for our next destination.


The Entertainment Team work hard during the Gibraltar sail-away party on the Lido deck.


Alicante came next on our visit list – you need to be fairly sober to walk straight down this promenade!


Taking the new lift to the Castle above Alicante gave a fantastic view of the city and the harbour. We chose to walk from Britannia into the town (seems that we’re always at the end of the dock!)


This pic was taken in the pouring rain but it proves that good acting and photography can mask most things! Happily, the rain in Spain stopped fairly quickly afterwards.


We’ve spend some very happy hours with old cruise friends Bill and Jill (who had no idea that we’d be aboard this cruise) and their family. James, Ben, Jill, Sarah, Doug, Jane, John and Bill enjoying pre dinner drinks in the Crow’s Nest …..


…… before a fine meal in the Meridian restaurant.



Our Rome visit brought a fantastic surprise for us as we met up with Dawn and Glenn (also on the ship!) from narrow boat “The Grand Affair”. We’d spent some happy times together last year on the Thames tideway outings. St Peter’s Square was even busier than last time.


…… as you can see!


We took in a visit to the tremendous Pantheon …….


…… housing the tombs of Raphael and many of the Italian monarchy.


The Spanish Steps were as busy as the rest of the city  …….


….. but a walk along the side of the River Tevere was strangely quiet.  The great mass of the Castle of St. Angelo with the dome of St Peter’s Basilica in the distance.


Back aboard ship we were treated to a superb evening of entertainment by Zoe Tyler. Her singing was sensational.


After a delightful, sunny and very tiring day in Rome followed by dinner and Zoe Tyler we had a walk around a very deserted ship …..


….enjoying the lights and calm after a great day out.


…. and, finally, another joy – we’ve met up with Delroy, the brother of our friend Dolreich. Meeting the other ‘triplet’ Dixon aboard Queen Mary 2 in January that’s all three of them done and dusted!