P&O Cruises’ largest ever cruise ship to be built for the British market has caused a flurry of excitement, not least in the design world as, for the first time, P&O opted to hand over every aspect of the design scheme to one design agency – Richmond International. The renowned hospitality interiors expert has delivered admirably on this mammoth undertaking, bringing its wealth of experience in the luxury hotel sector to bear on the ship’s modern classic design.
An understanding of the modern day traveller’s requirements was fundamental to P&O Britannia’s design, as was the need to appeal to both P&O’s loyal customer base and new audiences. With this in mind, Richmond channelled the rich heritage of P&O into a quintessentially British scheme, full of glamorous, classical touches, while injecting new innovations in dining, technology and entertainment.
Perhaps one of the most exceptional elements of the interior is the grand atrium, which is in fact much larger than any in previous P&O Cruise ships. Channelling the crucial role of a hotel lobby in providing a central social hub, Richmond has created a sophisticated, dynamic space with an elegant sweeping staircase to connect the decks.
At its heart is a remarkable sculptural lighting installation spanning all three decks. Entitled ‘Star Burst’, the installation draws inspiration from the star constellations used as historical naval references.
Surrounding it is a sumptuous seating area – complete with a variety of plush furniture and a garden maze-inspired carpet – infused with the nautical blue and cream colour palette that runs throughout the ship’s public spaces.
Encircling this seating area is the Market Café – with patisserie from master patissier Eric Lanlard – along with the Blue Bar on the opposite side of the lower deck, and wine expert Olly Smith’s Glass House wine bar.
The dining element, perhaps more than ever before, is crucial to P&O Britannia’s appeal. With ‘Food Heroes’ in the form of some of the country’s most celebrated chefs lending their expertise, there are multiple fine dining options available to guests.
From the ship’s all day-dining restaurant, Horizon, to the main dining rooms, Peninsular, Oriental Meridian and Epicurean, the division of space has been carefully considered to create a more intimate feel.
The exclusive Epicurean restaurant is a perfect example of the understated glamour Richmond has achieved throughout the ship, its soft cream palette offset with highlights of colour and opulent metallic detailing.
Another dining option is Michelin-starred chef, Atul Kochhar’s Indian restaurant with a twist, Sindu. Spacious yet comfortable, Sindu’s colour palette is inspired by nature and spices, its modern patterns paying homage to the food offering. Richmond has created smaller, more intimate spaces within Sindu, using decorative lighting and textural screen detailing for a private and unique experience for its customers.
In line with this prominent dining theme is The Cookery Club in association with celebrity chef, James Martin. This dedicated, clean and functional space with 12 cook stations offers passengers the opportunity to profit from a range of cooking classes, hosted dinners, demonstrations and tastings.
Alongside the strong culinary theme is, of course, the entertainment offering. The Crystal Room on deck 7 is P&O Cruise’s show lounge, and comprises a dance floor dedicated to ballroom and Latin dancing. Richmond’s careful planning of the ship allows the Crystal Room to be accessible yet protected from the general circulation flow.
The palette of subtle golds and pale blues is complemented by elegant, floral decoration, which is carried through into the balustrades. The coffered ceiling, graceful chandelier, and mirroring elements help to focus the light while emphasising a sense of space.
A crucial challenge of cruise ship design is, indeed, making careful use of limited space. This was particularly pertinent in the design of the ship’s 1800 cabins and suites, which Richmond has artfully organised to ensure maximum comfort for passengers.
Designed in a fresh and clean palette of soft calming greens or blues, the accommodation respects nautical tradition whilst being equipped with all the sophisticated mod-cons and technology you would expect to find in a five-star hotel.
Each outward-facing cabin has a balcony, whilst all cabins feature exclusive artwork by selected British artists, as part of the multi-million pound art collection on board.
In addition to space, the positioning of the communal spaces is also a key consideration. Richmond had previously been involved in the successful relocation of the spa area on P&O’s Royal Princess cruise ship, which moved to a more fitting location connected to the lower Atrium deck.
The Oasis Spa on board Britannia has also been positioned here. This serene space with its moody palette offers guests a luxurious and calming environment. Passengers can relax in a central plunge pool, enjoy the treatment rooms, and experience showers and waterbeds.
The spa’s lighting solutions are all-important in enhancing the freshness of the space and in creating a relaxing atmosphere to complement the dark textural elements. Indeed, across the entire ship Richmond worked very closely with lighting design consultants, Maurice Brill Lighting Design, to ensure the lighting enhances the interior design elements, giving drama and depth to all the spaces.
Richmond’s masterful approach has resulted in a truly remarkable ship that draws upon all the very best of Britain’s nautical tradition, yet with all the cutting-edge facilities enjoyed by today’s travellers. Not only is the Britannia an impressive addition to P&O’s burgeoning fleet, but it is a significant addition to Richmond’s world-class portfolio.