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P&O Cruises

3,762 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


However entertainment on formal evening was poor, hardly anything going on around the ship we were back in our room by 10:30!!The only issue for some may be the Havana club is right above the room and could hear the music going on until 1am but this never kept me from dropping off to sleep The ship is beautiful.Read More

10+ Cruises

Age 40s

Ventura in a wheelchair

Ordered starter of asparagus with poached egg.Poached egg was fine,but surrounded by sauce with half an asparagus spear chopped into tiny pieces that were dotted around in the sauce.Read More

6-10 Cruises

Age 70s

A cut back too far.

It all felt a bit pedestrian, service reduced to a minimum, no frills, no extras.Portions are not massive, which isn’t a problem (unless you’re expecting American dining) but there’s no flair to the service.Read More

10+ Cruises

Age 30s

Norway on Iona

We were on deck 10 forward, we asked the room steward to open our balcony so we could access the views together and it was great.Cabins were standard balcony but were a good size, great bathroom and comfortable bed, the pillows I did not find comfortable at all, not sure what the material inside was made of but they felt bizarrely pumped up.Read More

10+ Cruises

Age 50s

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