Britannia Rules The Waves

Seriously, I go to a lot of launches. But, wow, this one was the biggie. Alan Greenhalgh reports from the inaugural celebrations of P&O’s largest and newest cruise liner extraordinaire, Britannia.

MV Britannia

too big to take in – panorama shot of Britannia with a 308 ft Union Jack on its bow

Britannia Inaugural Celebrations

Lights, camera, action – Britannia Inaugural Celebrations

You’ll have seen the coverage over the news, read these pieces here Champagne Smash, Inside Look and so here’s a review of the event.

Photocall for the Britannia Celebrity Chefs

Photocall for the Britannia Celebrity Chefs

It’s a foodies ship,  P&O having signed up a stellar range of  Michelin-star chefs of UK, Marco Pierre White, James Martin, Atul Kochhur and wine expert Olly Smith, French pâtissier Eric Lanard and cheese maestro Charlie Turnbull. We also spotted Pierre KoffmanPaul Rankin and super nice chocolatier Paul A Young on board, too – I wonder if they’re lined up to join the roster soon?

The Gala Dinner on the first night was a very grand affair. Black tie, medals and gowns with a sparkling drinks reception of Wiston Estate Brut NV flowing freely.

Wiston on Britannia for launch ceremony

Charge your glasses for the toast: Britannia!

Drinks reception on Britannia


Comedian Rob Brydon was there to encourage pride in Britain and in Britannia. She certainly made me proud. And then on to dinner.

Each diner was assigned a restaurant and table, we were in the Oriental restaurant – deep purples and rich reds, orchids and dark woods, tables set with white roses, fan napkins and a braided souvenir menu. On offer was show dishes from the food hero chefs – all of whom were sitting at various tables. It looked and tasted like the final of Masterchef.

Oriental Restaurant

Oriental Restaurant

Dishes after delicious dishes came, polite nods and conversations with fellow dressed-up diners, a bit of celebrity rubber necking then upwards to the 17th deck to be handed cream pashminas, hot toddies and watch a “Last Night of the Proms” music and fireworks.

There was something happening all over the ship, endless piano in the Crow’s Nest bar, Michael Ball performing an hour-long show in the Headliners Theatre, Rat Pack and jazz in the Limelight  Lounge and DJs with fantastic strobes in the Live Lounge nightclub. A polite notice in the welcome pack reminded guests to be careful with over consumption of alcohol. We took that seriously – we had an appointment to keep with Her Majesty The Queen the next morning. Best behaviour, and another outfit.

On a chilly damp dockside the bands were out rehearsing from seven am.

Royal Marines and Irish Guards Bnads took part in the naming ceremony of Britannia

Royal Marines and Irish Guards Bands took part in the naming ceremony of Britannia

Breakfast was to be had in any of the many restaurants before heading out to quayside to take our places in the stand overlooking the ship. Grasping a hot fruit cordial in a branded steel mug, a handwarmer and souvenir programme we were set for the morning.

Wiston champagne for Britannia Launch

Mind your head!

We spotted the ginormous Wiston nebuchadnezzar on a zip wire precariously dangling above the heads of the audience. Bands played, ballroom dancers danced and the fantastic Red Hot Chilli Pipers ramped up the excitement with their electric guitars, trombones and bagpipes.

Please be upstanding for the Queen, bright in coral who headed up the steps to be seated beside Captain  Paul Brown and Micky Arison, billionaire chairman of P&O’s owner, Carnival Cruises.

Britannia Naming Ceremony

HM The Queen

Speeches by the MD and a prayer from the Bishop and it’s the naming moment. A firm double press and the bottle was out the trap smashing with a huge bang above the i in Britannia.

Britannia naming

Smash bang wallop – q huge explosion as the bottle hit the boat

Hip, hip hooray for the Queen and she was back in the car, round the back of the hangar and onboard for lunch.

We’ll have a review of the food here shortly.


Chocolate Classes at Bake with Maria London

Chocolatier and pastry chef Annamarie Jones is to join the Bake with Maria team bringing her experience from Dallmann Fine Chocolates in the United States, Melt and Rococco.

First up on Sunday March 29th is an Easter Chocolate Masterclass  learning how to make honey vanilla caramels, milk chocolate vanilla moulded chocolates, Easter bunny figures and mini-eggs.

Easter Chocolate Class with  /

Easter Chocolate Class with /


A full schedule of classes, to include a chocolate dessert class and a truffle making workshop will be announced soon.

Bake with Maria, founded by Maria Mayerhofer in 2010, run baking classes taught by experts in their specially designed baking lab in London’s St John’s Wood.

Classes are kept small to ensure maximum attention, and the equipment is domestic so that pupils can make use of their knowledge and achieve excellent results in their own homes.

For details of upcoming classes and to make a booking see

 Bake With Maria Logo London

The Mac Factory – 21st Century Macaroni and Cheese Pop Up

The Mac Factory are doing interesting and tasty things with 21st century mac n cheese.  Based at Camden Lock Market seven days a week, but with numerous pop ups, we got to see Chef Owner Graham Bradbury in action at the Earlham StreetClubhouse, Covent Garden, where he will be running The Mac Factory pop up for the next few Saturdays.

Earlham Street Clubhouse

that’s exactly the look we had when we found this Mac n Cheese popup

Even for such a seemingly simple dish, there is great chef-ery as Graham’s background is classic French. So you’ll see technique, many steps, in many pans – not in the oven, with flourishes such as a tarragon emulsion and topped with parmesan and thyme crumble.

The Mac Factory at Earlham Street Clubhouse 2015-03-14 15.31.44

The menu is simple  – from a classic mac n cheese in a pot with three cheeses (£6.50) to a Super Mario with wild mushrooms and truffle oil (£7.50). Earlham Street Clubhouse have partnered with a cocktail menu that has a fresh Rain Mac (£5) with gin, elderflower and apple juice to cut through that delicious, unctuous cheese and cep cream.

The Mac Factory

Mac n Cheese from the Mac Factory with cocktails from Earlham Street Clubhouse

Stand out dish was the mac gourmet burger topped with juicy pork, lettuce, tomato and red onion combo – a crisp-on-the-outside and soft-chewy-in-the-middle creation in a brioche bun with a sensational pancetta mayonnaise.

The Mac Factory

Belly pork Mac n Cheese #Burger with Pancetta Mayo @themacfac @esclubhouse

We loved it: Comfort street food for which you don’t even need a hangover.

READ MORE FOOD REVIEWS: Covent Garden Four To Eight 


Feeling The Street – Celebrating The World’s Best Buskers

Around the world, every single day, some of the most vibrant musical performances take place on the world’s street corners. That talent now has a home with the launch of Feeling the Street (, an online campaign that celebrates some of the world’s best buskers.

Feeling the Street #FTS Toyota

Feeling the Street #FTS from Toyota

For the next nine weeks, street musicians will be able to enter clips of their own original performances to enter the competition. Visitors to the site can choose their favourite performers from the hundreds on offer and help to decide which six individuals they would like to see come together in a Global Street Band. 

Three phases of competition:  

Phase 1- Enter and Vote  

Musicians can enter by submitting an original video where they show their skills, playing an original song on their street corner. A global online audience will then vote by throwing money in the hats of the musicians they like most.  Phase 1 runs from March 18, 2015.

Phase 2 – “Pick your band”

The audience will be able to pick a combination of the six favorite artists they would most like to see come together.  Phase 2 runs from May until June, 2015.

Phase 3 Taking the Global Street Band on the road

The winning participants will travel to New Zealand, for a nine-day tour across the country that will culminate in a live performance on stage.  Six audience winners will also be selected as ‘Roadies’ to travel with the band.  Phase 3 runs from June 13 until June 20, 2015.

See some more of the performers here

Percy & Founders – The Evolution of the Public House

Percy & Founders is a new 200 cover restaurant and bar opening on 26th March 2015 in the heart of London’s eating out district, Fitzrovia. P&F joins some great places in the area such as Riding House Cafe, Lantana, Berners Tavern at the Edition and The Charlotte Street Hotel and will no doubt be popular with the staff from L’Oreal who will have their new UK & Ireland  headquarters in the same building. It’s part of a development of eight new buildings of retail, offices and housing, surrounding the first new public square in central London for over 100 years.

Open all day, every day with casual and formal spaces for both reservations and walk ins headed up by Diego Cardosa, Executive Chef, who comes from Angela Hartnett’s Murano.

The restaurant name comes from Hugh Percy and philanthropists who founded the Middlesex Hospital in 1757 on the site on which Percy & Founders is now opening.

It’s the first creation of Open House, the new sister company to Cubitt House who’ve brought a collection of fine public houses and hotels in Belgravia, Knightsbridge, Pimlico and Marylebone. We’ve eaten at wonderful restaurant The Pantechnicon and can’t recommend it highly enough – especially the wine list. Cubitt House tend to just get it right. So we are excited for this new one.

For one week Percy & Founders will be running a soft launch offer of 50% off food from Thursday 26 March to Wednesday 1 April 2015. From 27 March to 1 April they’ll be open for lunch (12-2pm) and dinner (7-9pm). To make a reservation email or call 020 3761 0200.

Percy & Founders

1 Pearson Square, London W1T 3BF

Cuisine: British

Price: £26 to £40

Middlesex Hospital Chapel


The Chapel of the Middlesex Hospital which was retained in the redevelopment of the site with a £3m restoration.

Onboard P&O Britannia – First Look Inside

We were lucky enough to be one of the first onboard new P&O vessel Britannia, the largest ever British cruise ship.  The stats are awesome – it weighs in at 141,000 tons with capacity for over 3600 passengers, 1398 officers and crew and, at  1,082 ft, it’s longer than The Shard.

It’s immense and beautiful.

Britannia will sail on her maiden voyage in March 2015 © P&O Cruises

Rule Britannia!

It’s modern luxury cruising with the emphasis on food with the help of celebrity chefs Marco Pierre White, Atul Kochhar, James Martin, wine guru Olly Smith, patissiere Eric Lanlard and cheese expert Charlie Turnbull. There are 13 restaurants and 13 bars on board, four swimming pools – one for adults only, a huge theatre, nightclub and cabaret lounges, a cookery school, library, kids and teenagers’ decks and playrooms, full gym and fitness studio, a Medi-Spa with Elemis and hydrotherapy treatments and a £1 million art collection. It’s British style – nautical blues, greens and creams with some Las Vegas pizazz!

Inside the Atrium of Britannia:

Checking in at Southampton and sailing from March 2015

Britannia swipe card for room and on board purchases

Britannia swipe card for room and on board purchases


Britannia's Hull after the Wiston champagne launch

Britannia’s hull after the Wiston champagne launch with HM Queen Elizabeth II

Views from onboard

 Starburst Chandelier Britannia

First thing you see is this massive atrium with shops, bars and coffee lounge and stunning Starburst chandelier

There are 15 passenger decks with 1,819 passenger cabins of which 64 are suites, some deluxe balcony cabins, 27 single cabins and just 460 inside cabins.

 Suite aboard Britannia

Suite aboard Britannia – champagne on ice!

Britannia Suite

Bedroom of the suite with a double-sided TV screen dividing the room

Bathroom of a suite on Britannia

Bathroom of a suite on Britannia – it has two doors so you can access the loo from the sitting room and the shower and bath from the bedroom.

Even the standard cabins are great with a separate dressing/wardrobe area as you come in with plenty of hanging space. All things you’d expect from an international hotel – flat screen TV, toiletries and linens from The White Company, tea & coffee-making, safe deposit box, air conditioning, a sofa bed and best of all an outside balcony (as with most of the cabins on the ship). That the hair dryer is a bit fiddly to plug in and the water from the taps isn’t that nice, are tiny niggles.

F Deck Cabin - twin room aboard Britannia

F Deck Cabin – twin room aboard Britannia

F Deck cabin bathroom aboard Britannia

F Deck cabin bathroom aboard Britannia – with glass shower door

swimming pool on Britannia

Two of the four pools on Britannia


Britannia P&O on board

Taking a dip in a heated pool on Britannia



Jasmin Rowlandson artwork in porcelain with 24 carat gold on P&O Britannia

one of the artworks from the million pound collection on Britannia

During her summer season, Britannia will sail to the Mediterranean, Norwegian fjords, the Baltic, Canary Islands and Atlantic Islands. In winter, the ship will sail 14-night Caribbean itineraries.



we’d rather be onboard than overboard

Rule Britannia – it really sets the standard of hotel luxury on the high seas.

See Britannia’s Inauguration Ceremony here and read our piece from September 2013 on her green credentials.


Bluff Your Way To…

This series of interactive evenings is designed to bluff your way through the trickiest social situation, stay on track with the latest trends, and appear as a fountain of all cultural knowledge.


Each Bluffing session will be based around a theme, with an expert on board to guide guests away from terrified ignorance into confident repartee.

Events take place fortnightly on a Tuesday:

2015 Wine Trends – March 31st

Bored  of  Bordeaux? Not  so  savvy  about  Sauvignon? Queen  of  the  grape,  Jane  Parkinson  will help  partakers  get  to  grips  and  sample a selection of red, white and rose wine, to ensure guests are able decipher between their Reislings from their Pinot Noir  by the end of the evening.

A guide to Gin Trends- April 14th

The General Election- April 28th

Online Stardom- May 12th

Cannes Film Festival- May 26th

Tickets are priced at £25 and include 3 cocktails or relevant drinks and flights of tasters:

Sessions take place at
42 Northampton Road
Read about the venue here Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings

Champagne Smash for P&O Britannia Launch by HM The Queen

With pomp and ceremony the magnificent Britannia, latest cruise liner from P&O, was named by HM Queen Elizabeth II in Southampton on 10th March 2015.

Shinesquad’s Alan Greenhalgh was there to record it.


Here’s the official version