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P&O Cruises

4,001 Reviews
Britannia (Photo: P&O Cruises)

About P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises is the U.K.'s largest cruise line, with seven ships catering exclusively to the British market. The ships are based out of Southampton, dividing their time between the Caribbean, Northern Europe, the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands.

The line can trace its history right back to 1837, with the foundation of the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company, though it did not start carrying passengers until 1844 -- which is the date often used to determine when cruising as a holiday (rather than as a point-to-point journey) began.

P&O Cruises remained a British-owned company until 2003, when U.S. group Carnival Corp. bought it, sister brand Princess Cruises and spun off a third brand -- P&O Australia.

The line wears its history lightly, preferring to lean into a more contemporary British vibe of modern chefs (the line's "Food Heroes") including Marco Pierre White; entertainers, including Gary Barlow, who is the musical director of the two newest ships, and Olly Murs, who will christen the line's newest, Arvia; link ups with Aardman Animations (of Wallace and Gromit fame); and Brits' love of gin, rum, curry and fish 'n' chips, all of which you'll find represented across the fleet.

Of the seven ships, the five newest are family-friendly; and the older and smaller ships are adults only.

  • More about P&O Cruises

  • Who goes on P&O Cruises cruise ships?

  • Do I have to dress up on a P&O Cruises cruise?


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P&O Cruises


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P&O Cruises Tips, Activities, and Overview

Who goes on P&O Cruises cruise ships?

The line is aimed squarely at Brits, and that's pretty well the only nationality you'll find abroad at any time of year, wherever the ship is based. The demographic varies drastically depending on the type of ship and time of year. The adults-only ships tend to attract couples of 55-years plus; the family-friendly ones will attract families during the holiday periods, and then revert to 55+ couples outside of school holidays. Age will skew lower on the mini-break cruises to Europe and the Channel Islands.

P&O Cruises is also aimed squarely at Middle England -- it's not upmarket and not "bucket and spade". The line is about as typically British as you can get.

Do I have to dress up on a P&O Cruises cruise?

P&O cruisers veer on the side of smart during the evening (not Cunard smart, but certainly not casual or scruffy), with casual during the day -- shorts, T-shirts, baseball caps and flip flops are perfectly acceptable day wear. On elegant nights passengers tend to make an effort and you'll see a range of clothing from ball gowns and black tie to and dark suits and long dresses and heels.

Is everything free on P&O Cruises cruises?

No, though tips are included in the price of the cruise and you won't find the rampant upcharging you get on US lines. You'll pay extra for speciality restaurants, adults-only relaxation areas, the spa (treatments and thermal suite access), alcoholic and soft drinks.

What are P&O Cruises’s most popular activities?

P&O Cruises does not go in for adrenaline-filled activities like the US ships, so you won't even find a climbing wall even on the largest ships (though Arvia does have a ropes course), let alone simulated skydiving, dodgems or simulated surfing. Daytime activities across the fleet consist of activities range from the old-time favourites such as deck quoits, shuffleboard and table tennis to line dancing and party dance classes plus plenty of quizzes throughout the day including a pub challenge.

Why go with P&O Cruises?

  • Main homeport is Southampton
  • The biggest cruise line catering to the British market
  • Family-friendly ships with tailored, age-appropriate kids clubs
  • Check out our Five Top Britannia Tips

Best for: Brits keen to sail with their fellow country people, who want a home-from-home atmosphere.

Not for: Non-English speakers; late-night partyers or those who want lots of outdoor entertainment options

P&O Cruises Cruiser Reviews

14 years on is she still the same ship ?

I like my Red wine and we found the Fleurie 2022 a really nice one thanks Olly Smith who we met on our first cruise on Azura, it's twice the price of on shore, but it's hard to get (£15 ish or so) £29 on board cheaper than most ships for similar quality on other cruise lines and no tax.We dined in the Oriental some evening's and found the food quite good- The Epicurean we used twice which was nice a tad pricey maybe ,Sindhu we always use and again it made a nice change for a fair price - The Glass house was good and value for the quality, and the Beach house all good food we found.Read More

10+ Cruises

Age 75s

Really poor cruise

The fruit juice dispensers (with squash) are emptied after breakfast, and you can only get water.People had brought their own squash and nesquik powder on board, as well as packs of soft drinks - I’ve not seen this before on any other liner.Read More

6-10 Cruises

Age 33s

Butlins at Sea

Perhaps P&O are now looking for a different clientele - For us, we will go with quality over quantity and stick to the American cruise lines that put service as the priority.We are experienced cruise goers (we go 3-4 times a year) Arvia is a beautiful ship but it is wasted on P&O.Read More

10+ Cruises

Age 37s

Cabin was a nice surprise

The pools were nice and it was great having lots of whirlpools and small dip pools around the ship but again too many children in the main pools and the main sky dome isn’t great for sunbathers as it’s under cover.The adult pool isn’t that great either, it’s too small so we tended to stick to the infinity at the aft but had to share with lots of kids.Read More

10+ Cruises

Age 57s

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