Cool Britannia – Saturday Kitchen star James Martin joins celebrity chefs for P&O Cruises’ new flagship

Saturday Kitchen star James Martin is joining the line-up of celebrity chefs catering for passengers on P&O Cruises’ new flagship, Britannia, next year, it was announced tonight.

The 41-year-old from Yorkshire and master pâtissier Eric Lanlard were named alongside P&O favourites Marco Pierre White, Atul Kochhar and Olly Smith as the food and wine experts for the British-themed ship.

On the menu: The 'food heroes' announced by P&O Cruises

On the menu: The ‘food heroes’ announced by P&O Cruises

Martin, who has presented BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen for six years, is setting up a new feature on board called the Cookery Club, where he and fellow celebrity chefs will teach groups of up to 24 passengers some of the secrets of the trade.

He promised an audience in east London tonight: ‘I will be on the ship at least once a month.’

Earlier, Martin said: ‘I’m really excited about joining P&O Cruises in this brand new venture. I’ve been fortunate that my career has been very varied but I’m always most at home when I have the opportunity to talk to people face-to-face about food.

Come dine with me: The Cookery Club (Picture: P&O Cruises)

Come dine with me: The Cookery Club (Picture: P&O Cruises)

‘I’m absolutely delighted with the progress of the Cookery Club, the plans look amazing and I think it will be a world-class space. I plan to travel on Britannia as often as I can but I’ll also have a talented team to run it when I’m not on board. I’m also talking to a few of my friends in the culinary world about coming on board to deliver classes, so watch this space!’

There will be 13 restaurants and the same number of bars on board the 141,000-tonne, 3,600-passenger Britannia, described by P&O as ‘the ocean’s finest hotel’.

Light fantastic: The Starburst chandelier is a focal point of the atrium (Picture: P&O Cruises)

Light fantastic: The Starburst chandelier is a focal point of the atrium (Picture: P&O Cruises)

At its hub will be a three-storey atrium surrounded by cafes, bars and shops and featuring Starburst, described as ‘part chandelier, part sculpture’. The P&O brochure says: ‘Inspired by the days when our ships used stars to navigate, its gold reflective surfaces bounce light around the atrium. A true talking point, it’s the most ambitious – and beautiful – centrepiece we’ve ever created.’

Curtain's up: The theatre with LED backdrop (Picture: P&O Cruises)

Curtain’s up: The theatre with LED backdrop (Picture: P&O Cruises)

The ship’s 936-seat theatre will have an LED backdrop but there will also be the Limelight Club, where diners will be entertained by live acts, The Studio cinema – which will also host talks, plays and game shows – and the Crystal Room for dancing. Among the bars will be the Crow’s Nest with floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows to offer views described as second only to the captain’s.

Spice up your evenings: The Sindhu restaurant (Picture: P&O Cruises)

Spice up your evenings: The Sindhu restaurant (Picture: P&O Cruises)

Marco Pierre White will be creating dishes for Britannia’s main restaurant on formal nights, while Atul Kochhar’s Indian food will be served in Sindhu and Olly Smith will be choosing the wine for The Glass House. Eric Lanlard, a former French navy chef who starred in the Channel 4 series Glamour Puds and Baking Mad, will be setting out his patisserie range in the Market Café at the heart of the atrium, which also houses a charcuterie and gelataria. Passengers will have the option of dining at a chef’s table, tasting world-class cuisine in an intimate space.

Raising the bar: The Crow's Nest (Picture: P&O Cruises)

Raising the bar: The Crow’s Nest (Picture: P&O Cruises)

Elsewhere on the ship will be supervised clubs for children aged from two to 17 and a dedicated teens area. As well as a spa, Britannia will have an open-deck retreat, a sports arena, four swimming pools and al-fresco dining.

Culture has not been forgotten either, with a £1million art collection. And, for romantics, there is a dedicated wedding venue. Of the 1,837 cabins, all outside rooms have a balcony, including 64 suites and 27 single bedrooms.

Venue du vin: The Glass House (Picture: P&O Cruises)

Venue du vin: The Glass House (Picture: P&O Cruises)

Christopher Edgington, P&O Cruises’ new marketing director, said: ‘Britannia will introduce cutting-edge design combined with a range of innovations uniquely styled to appeal to those who may not have considered a cruise holiday before as well as our many loyal past passengers.

‘Combining the excitement of cruising with the sophistication of a five-star hotel, Britannia is not only the biggest ship built for the British market but the most glamorous too. We have set out to make Britannia the biggest and the best and we are confident passengers will be wowed by the experience.

‘We are incredibly honoured to have secured the services of the best chefs at sea. The addition of James Martin and Eric Lanlard on Britannia further enhances the already incomparable level of culinary excellence we are proud to offer across our fleet.’

Dining al fresco: The Lido at the rear of the ship (Picture: P&O Cruises)

Dining al fresco: The Lido at the rear of the ship (Picture: P&O Cruises)

In light of the recent row over holiday pricing during the school breaks, Edgington said: ‘We have ensured that our prices remain constant throughout the year irrespective of the timing of the peak school holiday periods. We are conscious of the hardship families face when taking holidays at these time and are therefore committed to fair pricing throughout the year.’

Britannia’s maiden voyage will be on March 14 next year and the ship will sail from Southampton to the Med, Norwegian fjords, Canary Islands and the Baltic Sea during its first season. Other trips include short breaks and a round-Britain cruise. The ship will then head to the Caribbean for a winter season of 15-night fly/cruise holidays from Barbados.

MINI Suite

Suite surprise: One of the mini suites on Britannia (Picture: P&O Cruises)

Pre-registration starts tomorrow (Feb 13) and fares will go on sale from March 27 – see pocruises.co.uk or a travel agent. Here are the details of the itineraries:

Find out when your favourite chefs will be on board here

Maiden cruise (Spain, Italy and France, 14 nights):

Mar 14 – Mar 28, 2015: Southampton – Gibraltar – Barcelona – Monte Carlo – Rome (tours from Civitavecchia) – Ajaccio, Corsica – Cartagena – Seville (tours from Cadiz) – Southampton

From £1,149 pp

Maiden Canaries cruise (Portugal, Spain and Morocco, 14 nights):

Mar 28 – Apr 11, 2015: Southampton – Madeira – Tenerife – Gran Canaria – Lanzarote – Agadir – Seville (tours from Cadiz) – Lisbon – Vigo – Southampton

From £1,199 pp

Maiden cruise break (Guernsey, two nights):

July 4 – Jul 6, 2015: Southampton – St Peter Port, Guernsey – Southampton

From £249 pp

Maiden Norway cruise (Norway, Nordfjord and Sognefjord, 7 nights)

Apr 25 – May 2, 2015: Southampton – Bergen – Olden – cruise in Nordfjord – Flaam – cruise in Sognefjord – Stavanger – Southampton

From £699 pp

Maiden Baltic cruise (Scandinavia, Russia and Estonia, 14 nights)

May 30 – Jun 13, 2015: Southampton – Bruges (tours from Zeebrugge) – Helsinki – St Petersburg – Tallinn – Stockholm – Copenhagen – Oslo – Kristiansand – Southampton

From £1,499 pp

Maiden British Isles cruise (British Isles, 12 nights)

July 6 – July 18, 2015: Southampton – sailing by Flamborough Head and South Shields – Edinburgh (tours from South Queensferry) – Inverness (tours from Invergordon) – Kirkwall, Orkney Islands – sailing by Cape Wrath – Glasgow (tours from Greenock) – Liverpool – Dublin (tours from Dun Laoghaire) – Cork (tours from Cobh) – sailing by South Cornwall – St Peter Port, Guernsey – Southampton

From £1,249 pp

Caribbean bound: Britannia (Picture: P&O Cruises)

Caribbean bound: Britannia (Picture: P&O Cruises)

Maiden Caribbean transatlantic cruise (Portugal & Caribbean, 14/15 nights)

Oct 23 – Nov 7/8 2015: Southampton – Madeira – St Maarten – Dominica – St Lucia – Grenada – Barbados (overnight in port on longer trip) – overnight flight to UK

From £1,099 pp

Caribbean (15 nights)

Friday departures from Nov 20 – Dec 5, 2015: Fly UK to Barbados (Friday departures overnight in port) – Grenada – Isla Margarita – Curacao – Aruba – Tortola – St Maarten – Antigua – St Lucia – Barbados (Saturday departures overnight in port) – overnight flight to UK (flights from selected UK airports)

From £1,399 pp

Shipmonk has been shortlisted as best blog in the 2015 Cruise International awards. To vote, please click here (last category)

See also:

Britannia to have Union Flag hull

P&O Cruises unveils Arcadia after multi-million-pound refit

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