P&O Cruises’ Britannia: new generation falling in love with seeing the world
Oh, to be 19 again. A university-free summer, a thirst for adventure and a burning desire to explore exciting, far flung shores without a care in the world … just, with mum.
Wait, what? Me? Hooray! Long overdue some quality girls’ time with my daughter, what started out as an impromptu pipedream turned, over lunch, into a fabulous fortnight cruising the sunny Mediterranean, making memories and enjoying the most magical mother-daughter catch up imaginable.
Buzzing at the idea of a girls’ trip, over bruschetta and brochures, the tranquil allure of Mallorca and the glamorous, Gram-worthy nightlife of Ibiza called for a coin toss - until P&O Cruises offered both beautiful Balearic islands and so much more in one fabulous itinerary.
Two weeks later, with enough excitement to fuel the ship and enough luggage to fill a deck, we boarded Britannia in Southampton, the enchanting ports of Cadiz (Seville),
Cartagena, Ibiza, Mallorca and Gibraltar on the horizon, sandwiched between sun-kissed days at sea.
The destinations were perfect, the weather set sunny and our mid-ship balcony cabin a spacious sanctuary ideal for breakfast al fresco and catch-up chats under the stars.
Heading straight to the top deck for the carnival celebrations of the sail-away party, our cares drifted away with the ship, until …
‘Mum! You’re not holding the camera high enough. Mum! Other way round. No, not like that. Wait, sorry, it might be this dress, let me just change … but mum, quick, or we’ll miss golden hour.’
Golden hour? Heaven forbid. An hour, three outfits and 30 snaps later, I realised cruising with my vivacious daughter would be oceans apart from cruising with my husband, so decided to relax, sip my cocktail and settle into a fun-filled fortnight of love, laughter and learning photography.
Cadiz and Cartagena
Whilst some guests opted for the short journey to Seville from our first port, having sampled its historic delights on a previous trip, we eased into our adventure with shopping, sightseeing and sangria in charming Cadiz, where the view from the top of its striking 18th century cathedral was well worth the climb. Just a 10-minute stroll from ship to golden sands, we snorkelled and paddle boarded until balmy early evening before heading back to Britannia for lava rock steak with a sunset backdrop in The Beach House.
Although perfect for exploring on foot, my youthful cruise buddy spotted a Segway shore experience in Cartagena, whizzing us around all the must-see sights of this quaint, fortress-flanked Spanish city in a couple of hours. After a tapas lunch in the Old Town, we immersed ourselves in the history and architecture of the old Roman Empire with a tour of the Museum of the Roman Theatre at the city’s heart. Back onboard by sail away, we swapped Rome for Rock, popular showband Pulse electrifying the Live Lounge with the guitar-twanging guilty pleasures of the ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Rock’ spectacular.
Renowned for its icing sugar sands, crystal waters, idyllic Old Town and of course, its colourful nightlife, Ibiza was our pick of the ports, with an extra special P&O Cruises shore experience - Sunset at Café Mambo and Ibiza Town - to enjoy. Perusing Santa Eulalia’s quirky, must-visit hippy market by day, it was soon 5pm and Mambo time for our small group, collected by mini bus for a wander around the quaint Old Town, harbour and a confetti of pretty bars before heading to the heart of the action for a taste of Ibiza’s effervescent evenings.
Dressed for chic cocktails, music and vibrant beach party vibes, our table at the water’s edge was sublime for celeb-spotting, soaking up the pulsating party atmosphere and finally, the breathtaking sunset. As eager revellers lined the beach and tiny boats bobbed just off shore, the sun dropped like a burning penny into the sea, turning Café Mambo into a twilight neon wonderland for the young and young at heart. With Britannia not sailing until 2am, a huge plus for night owls and the party-hearted, we even managed to squeeze in a few hours in lively San Antonio, a clubber’s dream and home of the hottest nightlife on the island, before falling into bed exhausted but exhilarated.
Palma and Gibraltar
The jewel in our cruise’s crown, enabling a bonus Balearics mini-break, was an overnight stay in Palma, giving two full days and an evening to enjoy the scenic city. In 35 degree heat, Aqualand waterpark was the epitome of cool, its wave pool, snaking flumes and adrenaline-rush slides making for a memorable, all-action shore experience, before an evening of mellow ambiance in the al fresco bars of Majorca’s majestic capital.
Fun day was followed by sun day, and a stone’s throw to the turquoise waters of Pere Antoni, an inviting stretch of sandy beach starting just beyond Palma’s cathedral.
Towels, suncream, snorkel and a picnic made for a tan-topping top 10 day, with the inspired Indian delights of Britainnia’s Sindhu restaurant the icing on the cake.
Famous for its legendary rock, a 426m limestone giant with a mischievous collection of wild macaque monkeys and a labyrinth of hidden tunnels, chambers and caves, Gibraltar was last but certainly not least on our colourful port itinerary. A camera-savvy mum by this point, we succumbed to the Rock of Gibraltar, climbed it, conquered it and took the pictures, all before the all-aboard call for the voyage home.
A five-star resort at sea
With 26 bars and restaurants, four swimming pools, Jacuzzis, spa, ballroom, ocean-view gym, casino, cinema and shops – not to mention Cookery Club and Food Hero Masterclasses - there’s so much to see at sea on Britannia that sometimes, you have to coax yourself ashore.
Living the ocean dream by day, relaxing in The Retreat, chatting by the pool and unwinding in the aquatic bliss of the Thermal Spa, the spectacular ship enchanted by night with a kaleidoscopic mix of fine food and sparkling entertainment.
Add to this Broadway-class acts in Headliners Theatre, starlit serenades on the Lido Deck and mellow piano classics in the Crow’s Nest, from the first shimmering glimpse of Starburst Atrium to the last lingering sip of wine in the elegant Glass House, this glorious ship gets better with every magical voyage.
I’ve shared a Britannia cruise with my husband, bathed in romance and breathtaking sunsets, but this time I embraced the diversity of my fellow passengers - the mums and daughters bonding, friends reuniting, the group of dads holidaying together with their young children, the generations of families making unforgettable memories.
For me, the universal appeal of cruising is undeniable. In my daughter’s uplifting company, it was exhilarating and effortlessly enjoyable living life to the full, shaking off 20 years and stepping into the wonderful world of the next generation of cruisers.
Britannia embarks on a similar cruise featuring all the mentioned ports, including an overnight stay in Palma, on 16th August 2024, Mediterranean , 14 nights (B420). Prices start at £1,249 per person for an inside cabin. For the best deals call P&O Cruises on 0344 3388003 or visit pocruises.com