It’s a topic I have spoke about in a previous post, so it is no secret that accessibility and inclusion are both important aspects in many areas of my life. Whilst onboard I have received several questions and requests to cover accessibility onboard P&O Cruises Britannia, and so I thought why not make it the subject of my next post!
At 3 years old, Britannia is the newest and largest ship in P&O Cruises fleet, weighing in at over 140,000 tons. This should make her a primary choice for accessible cruising when choosing a holiday at sea. So how does she stack up?
In terms of accommodation, Britannia has a total of 37 accessible cabins which include the following features:
- Wide doorways into the cabin and bathroom
- Sufficient floor space for wheelchair manoeuvrability
- Accessible cabin safe
- Ramped access to the balcony (in balcony only cabins)
- Wet room style shower rooms with a flush threshold into the cabin
- Grab rails for shower and toilet
- Fixed or pull down shower chair
If you are fully dependent on a wheelchair, it may be worth considering how important a balcony is for you. This is because the balconies seem to be just as narrow in accessible cabins as they are in standard cabins and thus may be difficult to access comfortably in a wheelchair. This is shown in the image below.
Around the ship? Britannia has many features installed to ensure facilities are accessible to all. Cabin signs feature large lit cabin numbers and braille is used on the inside lift buttons and many signs throughout the ship, whilst there are also audio notification inside all lifts to indicate direction and deck. Furthermore, many popular entertainment venues on board have assisted listening systems installed, including The Live Lounge, The Headliners Theatre, The Crystal Room and The Studio.
Whilst I have been onboard, I haven’t noticed any particular spots which may make it difficult for individuals. The crew are very friendly and often go the extra mile to make sure you are having a great cruise onboard and we have experienced this first hand with my sister. Indeed, I must champion the youth team on Britannia – my sister is 16 and therefore has use of the clubs. In the past this has often been awkward or she hasn’t felt comfortable being left. However, this is not the case on Britannia and she has so far thoroughly enjoyed her time there and looks forward to going! The staff have been kind, considerate and supportive and have really helped. They give us a pager when we sign her in so we can be contacted anywhere onboard if we are needed, meaning we can relax knowing my sister is enjoying herself and we can be contacted if needed. This has certainly been the best experience with a youth team onboard.
One location onboard which I have been asked to research accessibility is the Spa and Retreat. The Spa is located on Deck 5, Forward, just past Reception and can be accessed via the Forward lifts or directly from the Atrium. We have been told that there is full wheelchair access throughout the Spa, making it easier for mobility impaired passengers to move around. The Retreat is located on Deck 17, Forward, and again can be accessed directly from the Forward lifts, or external spaces Deck 17. Coming out from the forward lifts there is a small lip over the threshold onto deck, but this is ramped making it wheelchair accessible. The rest of the deck through the Serenity Pool and into The Retreat is flat and easy to access. From our tour of The Retreat it would seem accessibility has been well thought out enabling all to make good use of the facilities should you choose this option. However, it should be noted that showers in The Retreat do have a lip to negotiate which may make it harder for some passengers. There are accessible shower and changing facilities elsewhere, but I realise this may take the edge out of using The Retreat when it is a paid for extra.
In all, Britannia is advertised as fully accessible however there are a few areas that are inaccessible to full time wheelchair users. Aside from the showers in the retreat which I have noted, the terrace pool is only accessible by stairs and the Midship and Forward sunbathing terrace on Deck 18 is also only accessible by stairs. I’ve added a couple of photos here to show the type of cabins available, but will upload more once I am back on dry land!
I hope this has answered some of your questions about Accessibility and Inclusion onboard P&O Cruises Britannia. You may find it useful to also take a look at a previous post I wrote on Accessibility at Sea which includes further links and info from my website, British Cruising. If you’ve already chosen to sail with P&O Cruises then you may also wish to check out their website and links on accessibility whilst you sail with them.
If there is anything I haven’t covered, or you have a specific question about sailing with P&O Cruises or Britannia, then please do let me know either in the comments below or over on Facebook! For now I will just leave you with a gentle reminder to make sure you stay up to date by ‘liking’ my Facebook page!
Update! Thanks to Katie Taylor over on Facebook for pointing out how there is also a dedicated disabled lift at the Aft which takes you from Deck 17 to Deck 18. I had spotted the lift but wasn’t sure where it ended up! A nice touch to ensure the top Aft deck is still accessible to all. Katie runs a very friendly Facebook group called Accessible Cruising which has been created ‘for disabled cruisers to have a voice and share their experiences, knowledge and stories of life on board.’ Be sure to check it out.
Thank you for reading!
Keep smiling and happy sailing! 🙂