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Britannia To Rule The Waves

 

It’s safe to assume that when Queen Elizabeth christened the P&O Oriana in 1995, when she was a mere child of 69, that nobody imagined two decades later she’d be christening Royal visit to Hertfordshireanother P&O ship, the Britannia.

It happens tomorrow.

This is the biggest ship ever built for Brits. It weighs 141,000 tons, carries 3,647 passengers and has the largest Union Jack ever seen painted on her bow. Under the circumstances, it’s a wonder they didn’t called her the Royal Ship Britannia…an upgrade on the Queen’s long-time Royal Yacht of the same name.

Tomorrow’s ceremony will take place in Southampton, the new ship’s permanent home. It will be live-streamed at live.pocruises.com, an Internet event that the cruise line has been counting down by the second for days now. On board are 13 bars and 13 restaurants — good thing nobody’s superstitious — and a million Britannia-artpounds Sterling ($1.5 million US) worth of art.

Passage on the Britannia has been available for a year and the chance to be first on her disappeared quickly. After hanging around Southampton to celebrate her arrival, the Britannia leaves Saturday on the historic maiden voyage. The first cruise with space still available leaves two weeks later, on March 28, and the prices aren’t outrageous.

For a two-week cruise to Spain and back, prices start at the equivalent of about $3,000, or $212 a day. 

There has been no word whether Queen Elizabeth II plans to go on a Britannia cruise, but she probably will.

In another 20 years. After all, she’ll only be 109.

Today at portsandbows.com: Oceania expanding fleet and itineraries

Costa Fascinosa
7 nights
May 3, 2015
Savona (return): Rome, Palermo, La Valletta, Palma De Mailorca, Barcelona
Inside: $399
Cost per day: $57
www.costacruise.com

New in 2015 — P&O Britannia

First in a series about ships

The first new ship of 2015 will set sail in March and be based in Southampton before leaving for its winter home, Barbados. P&O is billing this as a five-star ship with all the amenities of a like-rated hotel, but on water. The locals won’t have trouble recognizing her because she’ll be the biggest ship ever built for that market.

Launch date: March 28

Capacity: 3,647

Sister ships: None

Maiden voyage: 14-day Mediterranean cruise

Home port: Southampton

Ships then in P&O fleet: 8

Interesting: Britannia is 25,000 tons bigger than Azura, currently P&O’s biggest ship. Its features include 75 per cent of its cabins with balconies (or verandas) and 27 single cabins, many also with balconies. It also has the biggest spa in the fleet…maybe that’s why its name is the “Oasis” Spa. There are 13 places to dine, including one where you can make it yourself, The Cookery Club, a kitchen classroom where the teachers are renowned enough that P&O sells it as discovering “Foodie Heaven.” A sign of the changing demographic is an Indian restaurant with a Michelin-starred chef.

Today at portsandbows.com: Dynamic Dining delay

Grand Princess
7 nights
January 17, 2015
Los Angeles (return): Puerto VallartaMazatlanCabo San Lucas
Oceanview: $619
Cost per day: $88
www.princess.com

Battles Line Being Drawn in Great Britain

Most of us are too young — ah, isn't it nice to be called too young? — to remember the Battle of Britain. We read about it in history books, we may have even heard stories from family members who fought in World War II, maybe even seen a movie or something on the History Channel, but it's somewhat removed from our mindsets.

To cruise aficionados like us, the Battle of Britain is what's happening this year.

Royal-6 copyPrincess versus Royal Caribbean.

They're not exactly launching armadas but they are drawing lines in the water, so to speak, in the fight for United Kingdom cruise passengers and dollars.

A year ago, the Duchess of Cambridge (aka, Princess Kate) christened the Royal Princess just a few weeks before her own royal offspring arrived — Baby Cambridge is a Royal Prince. The ship she can call her own left later last year to spend the summer in the Caribbean, and now she's going back to her christening roots,

Southampton.

Next summer, the Royal Princess will be loaded — Princess Cruises hopes — with British passengers. She was to be the biggest ship (3,600 passengers) sailing the English Channel and assorted waters connected to it.

And then Anthem of the Seas (pop. 4,100) came along.

Royal Caribbean's newest ship-to-be, No. 2 in the Quantum Class, will be launched in April 2015. That's just before the Royal Princess returns and Anthem, too, will be hoping to stock up on British travelers.

Add to the mix P&O's new ship, Britannia, which will appear a month before Anthem of the Seas.

As a good friend and ex-Brit of ours would say "Advantage Princess." To him, Princess and P&O are "same thing."

Ruby Princess
4 nights
March 20, 2014 
Fort Lauderdale (return): Cozumel
Inside $249
Cost per day: $62
www.princess.com

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