One thing you are never short of whilst on a cruise is food. If you’re hungry during any minute of the day then there is sure to be a snack waiting for you somewhere! Whether it be a trip to the late night buffet, a touch of room service, or a visit to one of the speciality dining options onboard, there is enough food to (almost!) sink a ship! This is no different on P&O Cruises Britannia where you have 3 main dining restaurants, 5 speciality dining venues, the Horizon Court buffet restaurant, sweet & savour snacks in the Java Costa Café plus the usual room service options available, the grab and go and more! The list goes on. Suffice to say, they pretty much have all aspects covered in one way or another. Throughout my time onboard so far I have been lucky enough to try out many of the food hotspots so why not devote a whole post to it! I do love food after all.
The Main Dining Rooms
Lets start with arguably one of the most important restaurants on the ship! P&O Britannia has 3 main dining rooms which consist of the Peninsular and Meridian restaurants located Midship, Decks 5 and 6, operating as Freedom dining, along with the Oriental restaurant located Aft, Deck 6 underneath the Live Lounge, which operates as ‘Club’ set dining. We usually opt for set time dining when we cruise as a family, but on this occasion we decided to try Freedom. A tip worth noting here when you are on Freedom dining is if you prefer a table in a particular part of the restaurant, or hit it off with a couple of specific waiters and would like to dine with them again, you can request that you dine in the same area or table each night. You may be required to wait a little longer for the table to become available, but the restaurant manager will always try to meet your request and certainly they have done this in the Peninsular restaurant throughout our cruise. All 3 restaurants have a warm and welcoming ambience and are laid out in typical P&O fashion. What was interesting is the tables feel somewhat smaller than on previous ships. For example, we tend to have a table for 4 and this time around it felt quite cramped! To overcome this we tried to opt for a round table wherever possible, which alleviated the squishiness!
Overall, I have to be honest and say it hasn’t been the best dining experience I’ve had. The biggest culprit has been the recurring issue of meals not being particularly hot by the time they reach our table. Indeed, after a couple of days with the same issue we raised it with the restaurant and since doing so they have gone out of their way to ensure we have hot meals, with success most of the time. I can’t fault the service we have received in the Peninsular restaurant as it has been impeccable. Each night we ask to dine in Francisco’s Corner and it’s even got to the point that we needn’t even ask! Francisco must be one of the happiest and kindest crew members I’ve met and he’s really gone that extra mile to ensure we are having a great day. Setting aside the temperature issues, on the whole the food in the main dining room has been very good, well presented and tasty. Green beans have become a little bit of a daily joke, with us wondering which dishes they will be making an appearance on, but it sounds like Britannia isn’t the only ship mad for a few green beans. The biggest disappointment on the menu has been the steak which represents one of the dishes that are ‘always available’. On this occasion they haven’t been up to scratch, being very thin and quite tough. Whether or not it was a bad batch from their local supplier in the Caribbean or something else, I don’t know, but after two attempts we’ve left them well alone. Apart from this, we haven’t had a bad meal in the restaurant and certainly don’t hesitate when it comes to dining there. They just need to iron out the issues with ensuring the food is hot when it hits the table.
The Horizon Restaurant
Probably the most busy (and eventful) place to dine, The Horizon is located on Deck 16 and stretches from the Midship lifts through to the Aft stairwell and lifts. It is a huge, bright space which has been well designed for its purpose. What works very well are the hand washing stations strategically placed on the entrances to the buffet which provide a gentle reminder to wash your hands AND use the hand gels provided.
The crew in the buffet work efficiently and do a fantastic job maintaining the area. There is plenty of seating throughout with options to sit inside and outside by the pools. I’ve witnessed the buffet in the height of busyness and in the lulls which sandwich them and I have always found somewhere to eat my meal there for the four of us. The food has been good quality, fresh and hot with a good choice and variety. Although I haven’t eaten there a lot throughout my time onboard, I’ve always been impressed with the level of quality and cleanliness throughout and is definitely a perfect place to fit in a spot of brunch.
Around the Pool
Not far from the buffet, situated Midship, Deck 16, are Britannia’s two main pools. These are surrounded by more food options including the Lido Grill, Pizzeria and the Grab ’n Go. For those not familiar with the Grab ’n Go concept, it is like a fresh deli counter where you can pick up a selection of sandwiches, wraps and sweet treats, being refreshed and changed throughout the day. The menu on the grill and pizzeria does not particularly change. There are 2 set pizzas readily available which change daily, but if you’re looking for a standard margarita you might be out of luck. Todays specials were Tandoori chicken and a Mediterranean vegetable medley – when asked if I could just have a standard cheese and tomato I was told they couldn’t deviate from the days listings! On the Grill is the usual selection of chips, hotdogs, burgers and southern fried chicken, perfect for a quick snack on a hot afternoon when you don’t feel like anything too heavy. Overall, the food was good quality and hot, if somewhat a little limited in choice. Having said that I will always take less choice if it means better quality, rather than the other way around!
Epicurean – Situated forward on Deck 16, just before the Crows Nest, The Epicurean restaurant is one which exudes elegance and glamour in every respect. Billed as fine dining at its best, its referred to as a dining experience rather than just a dinner. We booked a table here as a surprise to celebrate Mothers Day and we certainly weren’t disappointed. Arguably the best meal we’ve had onboard, we enjoyed every second and true to their word, it really was an experience and a spectacle. Everything was delicious with the exception of that pre-dessert lollipop, which we all had a grin about! If you have a special occasion to celebrate, or just fancy something a little special, then from my experience on Britannia I would highly recommend the Epicurean Restaurant. It is a touch pricey being the most expensive speciality dining experience onboard P&O Cruises, but at £28pp it does represent great value and you are guaranteed to come away feeling full!
Sindhu – One of my favourite specialities at sea, Sindhu is headed up by Michelin Chef Atul Kochhar and represents a fusion of Indian and British tastes. Located on Deck 7 towards the Aft, I always try to dine in Sindhu at least once when onboard with P&O Cruises and it never fails to disappoint. With five courses to delight your tastebuds, each plate takes you on a journey of spice and beyond. A relaxed and inviting atmosphere where tranquility is key, Sindhu makes for a lovely dining experience, and at £20pp it comes in a little cheaper than The Epicurean.
The Beach House – By far the best value for money, The Beach House offers relaxed, informal dining with great, tasty food. With the option to dine alfresco if you prefer, a proportion of the The Horizon Restaurant is also transformed into The Beach House, which delivers first class service and deliciously simple food. At only £7.50pp, it’s hard to think of a reason not to try this speciality at least once and when given the chance I’m sure many will love it just as much as I do! There is a fantastic selection on the menu, most of which is included with the addition of a few supplement items such as the 6oz Lava Rock Fillet Steak, which cost an additional £2.95 – still great value!
The Glass House – Located on the top deck of the Atrium (deck 7), The Glass House runs adjacent to Java Café and has all the traits those loyal to P&O Cruises have come to expect. A classy atmosphere for that evening drink or a stop for anything from a light snack (from the small plates menu) or something a little more substantial. The Glass House is a popular destination onboard and provides a great alternative place to dine. There is no need to book and there is no overall per person cover charge here. Instead it is a more traditional menu which has itemised billing, most of which ranges between £5-£10 for main meals. Across the ships in the fleet we have always found The Glass House to be one of the venues which varies greatly in quality and standards. However, on Britannia The Glass House has represented good value for money and being located in the Atrium ensures there is always a lovely atmosphere. We certainly enjoyed our dining experience in The Glass House trying the steaks, fish and slider of burgers, to name but a few – they were all delicious!
The Market Café – A new concept from P&O Cruises and exclusive to Britannia is The Market Café, which provides some light breakfast, lunch and dining options throughout the day. Noted for their delicious Crêpes and patisseries, Eric Lanlard heads this café and it’s the perfect place to enjoy afternoon tea and a slice of cake. The Gourmet Boards available are absolutely delicious and make for a perfect lunch for as little as £3.25. Again there is no per person cover charge here or any need to book. As with The Glass House, The Market Café has an itemised menu with prices – just grab a seat and choose something delicious to enjoy.
In the Atrium
The atrium is undoubtedly the social hub of the ship, with many choosing to enjoy tea and coffee there, or something a little stronger! There are plenty of places to sit and while away the time. As with all the ships in the fleet, there is a Costa Coffee shop called Java where you can get a selection of complementary sweet and savoury snacks with your drinks. However, we have found that compared to previous experiences, the choice and quality of the items available has been relatively poor. Maybe I’m being cynical, but I can’t help but think this is to tempt you towards the ‘for fee’ alternative in The Market Café. As before, I wouldn’t mind less choice in Java if the quality was top notch, but unfortunately this isn’t always the case. Perhaps this is something which can be given a little more thought by the powers that be, as it is the only complimentary dining option in the Atrium (although you still have to purchase a drink from Java to get your free snack!). I personally would love to see P&O Cruises do something similar to Princess Cruises along the lines of the International Café. For those who don’t know this concept, it is a complimentary Café which provides excellent sweet and savoury snacks all day every day, both hot and cold! It’s fantastic!
I think that pretty much sums up my thoughts on food so far! I hope you’ve found it interesting and useful. There are certainly lots of options onboard to satisfy those hunger pains and again I’ve only been able to provide a brief overview, so I do recommend giving everything a go! I have enjoyed all the options which are available, some I would definitely do again and again (The Beach House for one!), and some every once in a while (Epicurean), but all of which offer something unique to try. One aspect I’ve realised I haven’t covered is Room Service. As many will know, with the exception of breakfast, room service is now a charged for extra. The little experience I’ve had with this service onboard has been positive on the whole, with food piping hot (hotter than the main restaurants on occasion!) and good quality. Since introducing charges they do seem to have upped their game and improved the service which is on offer.
That’s it for now guys! I’d love to hear your thoughts on my take of food on P&O Cruises Britannia and your views on the dining onboard. Let me know in the comments below or over on Facebook! As always, if you have any questions, let me know! I will do my best to answer them. And don’t forget to take a visit to my Facebook page and give it a ‘Like’ so you don’t miss anything! Thank you!
Keep smiling and happy sailing! 🙂