There is nothing that excites me more than a new ship, and this one appears to be even more special. P&O Cruises brand new ship Britannia is set to offer the line’s most exciting experience yet while combining classic P&O features along with a host of brand new innovative concepts.

The biggest ship ever built for Britain, she already gives a sense of patriotic flare and love for our country. I never forget when I was working onboard during the 2012 Olympics Open Ceremony and the intense passion and pride I had for my country. I didn't expect to have this feeling again, but was shortly proven wrong at the Britannia launch evening last night.

Not only will she have our iconic flag spread proudly across her hull, every inch of her will raise the bar in British cruising. Designed with the future in mind, whilst celebrating P&O Cruises' much loved past, she is sure to wow every single person that sails on her.

We all knew Britannia was launching in Spring 2015, but that was all we knew. Design, itineraries and other information remained tightly guarded. With P&O Cruises' lip’s firmly sealed for some time, last night finally saw them open with all the details we had all been waiting for.

The press release event was held by P&O Cruises at London’s prestigious Forman’s Fish Island. Advised to be an 'interactive event' I was slightly unsure of what to expect but none the less could not wait. With so much hype and anticipation around this ship my expectations were high.

A British Welcome

Arriving in East London, we were greeted by two handsome Captains (well, dressed up Captains!) proudly held the door open and greeted us with a typical P&O 'Welcome Aboard'.

If the 90 mile per hour gusts of wind were not sweeping us inside it would have felt like we were boarding a ship, although the unsatisfying weather added to the quintessentially 'British' evening we were about to experience. Behind these doors P&O Cruises had created a mini version of feature venues to star on the new ship - a perfect sample of things to come.

Welcome to The Limelight Club

After a warm welcome from P&O Officials and a glass of champagne we were guided to a restaurant. With a bold 'The Limelight Club' sign positioned at the entrance, I felt like I was walking into a restaurant on a ship. My colleague Laura and I were given a signature cocktail on the way to our table, which tickled my thirst quenching taste buds.

Still in ore of everything around me, I did not even check the menu before a waitress presented me with a plate of food that looked too good to eat. A duck pate to start, followed by Braised Daube of Beef with truffle mash and a truly divine raspberry chocolate basket to finish. An amazing meal, it wet my taste buds for other dishes that will be served in this remarkable restaurant. The Limelight Club will offer a traditional supper club experience onboard with spectacular food matched by smooth entertainment.

Show Time

In true cruise style, after our meal we hoped to see a show and that's just what we got. Ushered to our seats we were treated to a performance from the extremely talented P&O Cruises singers and dancers along with stars from the BBC show Strictly Come Dancing.

The ten minute performance gave us a taste of how much effort and planning has gone into the Britannia entertainment programme. Featuring Craig Revel Horward the show was a huge hit with all present.

After Show Wine

In high spirits from the show, we strolled into The Glasshouse for some wine and tapas. On a quant table in the corner we sat examining the wine menu, accompanied perfectly by the intimate atmosphere. Just as we were choosing a wine to order, we looked up to see Olly Smith asking if we needed any assistance in choosing. Was this really happening? Not only did we feel like we were on a cruise ship, but the famous wine expert has casually strolled over and joined us. He explained the wines and tapas that were on offer and engaged with us in a very down to earth manner. What a perfect way to enjoy an evening onboard.

The Cookery School

One of the major announcements made about Britannia was the 'Food Heroes'. For the first time ever, Britannia will have five famous chefs working alongside each other on the same ship. With food being a significant focus on cruises, P&O Cruises wish Britannia to represent the varied, cultural and unique food that our country loves.

The five celebrity chef 'Food Heroes' were announced as Marco Pierre White, Atul Kochhar, Olly Smith, James Martin and Eric Lanlard.

TV chef James Martin has helped develop The Cookery School which will be the first cookery school on a British ship. The spacious open kitchen will be home to a range of different cookery lessons from the renowned chefs, giving passengers the opportunity to cook alongside their hero’s and learn the secrets behind their signature dishes.

I would never have expect these chefs to be at this event but as we were sat down in a mock-up cookery school, out strolled Marco Pierre White in his typical noble manor. Being one of Laura’s foodie idles, she scurried to the front row to get prime viewing. I felt like I was sitting in a live TV cookery show as he demonstrated how to make salted sea bass.

I had so much fun here and I predict it to be a huge hit onboard - what an experience to be able to cook alongside a famous chef onboard a cruise ship.

Sending love back home

When cruising on Britannia passengers are going to have the opportunity to film a short weather report postcard to send home.

I love this idea. Sending physical postcards can be a hassle, however this enables passengers to boast what a wonderful time they are having to friends and family back at home without having to find a post office.

To experience what this will be like, Day Break Weather Reporter Laura Tobin was on hand to give us some presenting tips before donning the spotlight to film a short weather report from Britannia.

This was so much fun, here is my attempt:

Sally's Britannia Weather Report   

Anyone for a cake?

Just when we thought we had seen it all, we were drawn to the tempting scent of The Market Café. A foodie’s heaven, this café is home to every cake imaginable.

Made by famous patisserie Eric Lanlard, each cake has been thoroughly prepared to bring the most heavenly selection of treats at sea.

I went for the Gluten-free orange and almond cake with white chocolate. To say it was delicious would be an understatement!

Eric happily took us through each creation with the knowledge and enthusiasm of a true master. In fact, we spoke to all five of the chefs and I was surprised with how sociable and happy they were to answer any questions we had. They appeared just as excited as being part of Britannia as we are.

You’re saying we are not a ship?

Sitting laughing with friends, enjoying a drink and talking about our evening was pure enjoyment and it was not until a colleague reminded me our car was here that I suddenly remembered where I was. The way P&O Cruises had set up the event gave a true feeling of being onboard. Strolling from one venue to another, choosing to do what you want, having a constant flow of food and drink and genuinely enjoying your time with friends.

I have been to many cruise events, including ship launch events but this was by far the most unique and one that gave me a true insight to how the ship will be.

Britannia Predictions

This event only covered a tiny part of what will be featured onboard Britannia and from this I am already dying to cruise on her.

She will be a true reflection of the proud British heritage that P&O Cruises represent and raise many bars in the cruise world.

With a strong emphasis on food, she will take passengers on a culinary journey like nothing else available at sea, let alone being able to learn and try preparing it yourself.

Her venues, staterooms and entertainment are sure to wow everyone and are the recipe for a cruise of a lifetime onboard this iconic ship.

After receiving a Britannia goody bag (which included some glittery macaroons by Eric Lanyard, delicious!) we began our journey south. With big smiles on our faces and an excited buzz in the air, it was like we had just had a mini vacation on the real Britannia.

The only thing on my mind when I left was...who can I take with me to cruise on Britannia?

The Real Thing

Our Managing Director, Simone was lucky enough to fly to Venice for the Britannia float-out ceremony today and was honoured to be part of the celebration that enabled her to get a first glimpse of the ship.

Here are the exclusive pics she sent me:



By Sally Grimes