(5 p.m. EST) -- No surprise here: P&O Cruises is deeply in love with Southampton. The British-based cruise line announced its summer/autumn 2012 itineraries today, with a statistically impressive 148 departures slated for the U.K.'s favourite homeport.
The upcoming itineraries offer plenty of what's worked before for the line, like Canary Island cruises from the U.K. when the weather turns and overnights in port. Six of P&O's seven ships will offer long-haul cruising from Southampton, which should go down well with those who don't or can't fly. Only two of ships, Adonia and Ventura, will offer fly-cruising outside world cruise season (January - March); everything else leaves from P&O Cruises' homeport of Southampton.
It's important to remember, of course, that P&O Cruises does offer long-haul fly-cruising from January to April; Oriana and Aurora do world cruises in January each year, while at the beginning of 2012, Arcadia will sail the Far East, Australia and Africa, and Adonia will embark on a South American Odyssey.
Related: Plan a British Isles & Western Europe Cruise
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So what can we expect? In a nutshell:
After its 2011/2012 world cruise, the adults-only Arcadia will sail 17 ex-U.K. cruises between April 2012 and January 2013, ranging from seven-night Norwegian fjords to 24-night Canada and New England itineraries. There are overnight calls in Venice, Istanbul, New York, Quebec and St Petersburg.
49 Arcadia Cruise Reviews
The new Adonia, also adults-only and joining the fleet in May 2011, will sail 12 ex-U.K. cruises from April to October 2012 and six Mediterranean fly-cruises from October to December 2012, all between seven and 23 nights, covering the Mediterranean, Northern and Western Europe, and the British Isles. Being the line's smallest ship, the big focus is on exciting itineraries. Adonia has the most maiden ports for the line; these include Ancona, Brindisi, Durres, Honfleur, Kalmar, Portimao, Pula, Rapallo, San Sebastian, Sanary Sur Mer and Trapani.
Oriana, which turns adults-only later this year, will offer only ex-U.K. cruises, 24 of them, covering the Mediterranean, Northern and Western Europe, the Atlantic Islands and the Caribbean on itineraries ranging from three to 35 nights. The ship's refit in November will include the addition of 27 cabins in the space currently dedicated to kids' clubs (a stingy two of them for singles) and two new restaurants (Sorrento, for fine Italian dining, and Ocean Grill by Marco Pierre White). The Deck 8 aft children's pool will be replaced with a new seating area served by the existing deck bar.
21 Oriana Cruise Reviews
Family-friendly Aurora will operate 18 ex-U.K. cruises ranging from two to 24 nights and covering the Mediterranean, Northern and Western Europe, the Caribbean and North America.
23 Auoroa Cruise Reviews
Azura, the most recently built ship in the fleet, will offer 24 ex-U.K. cruises from March 2012 to January 2013, from two to 24 nights, covering the Mediterranean, Black Sea, Northern and Western Europe, Atlantic Islands and the Caribbean.
72 Auoroa Cruise Reviews
Oceana will sail ex-U.K. all year, with 30 cruises between April 2012 and March 2013, covering the Mediterranean, Northern and Western Europe, the Atlantic Islands and the Caribbean. What's unusual is a seven-night Christmas cruise to Belgium, Denmark and Sweden, and a four-night New Year's cruise to Belgium and The Netherlands, spending Boxing Day in Copenhagen or New Year's Eve in Amsterdam.
45 Oceana Cruise Reviews
Finally, the line is offering a handful of Caribbean fly-cruises. Ventura will sail 21 ex-U.K. cruises during summer and fall before embarking on eight Caribbean fly-cruises during winter 2012-2013. Areas covered on the departures include the Mediterranean, Northern and Western Europe, the Atlantic Islands and the Caribbean.
114 Ventura Cruise Reviews
As usual, there are deals to be had for early bookers, who can save up to £1,500 per couple, while onboard spending credit incentives go as high as £420 per couple. Sail from Southampton for over a week and the parking is free. Time your cruise right and you may qualify for free child places.
And as an added bonus, because 2012 is P&O's 175th anniversary, there's an additional 10 percent off 163 cruises in the brochure.
--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor