P&O Cruises
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P&O Cruises
P&O Cruises
Industry Transportation
Predecessor P&O
Founded 1837
Headquarters Southampton, UK
Area served
United Kingdom
Key people
  • Josh Weinstein (President, Carnival UK)
  • Paul Ludlow (Senior Vice President, P&O Cruises)
  • David Noyes (Former CEO, Carnival UK)
  • David Dingle (Former CEO, Carnival UK)
  • Christopher Edgington (Vice President of Marketing, P&O Cruises)
Products Cruises
Parent Carnival Corporation & plc
Website P&O Cruises
Footnotes / references
P&O-house flag.svg
P&O House Flag

P&O Cruises is a British/American cruise line based at Carnival House in Southampton, England, operated by Carnival UK and owned by Carnival Corporation & plc. Originally a constituent of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, P&O Cruises is the oldest cruise line in the world, having operated the world's first commercial passenger ships in the early 19th century. It is the sister company of, and retains strong links with, P&O Cruises Australia. P&O Cruises was de-merged from the P&O group in 2000, becoming a subsidiary of P&O Princess Cruises, which subsequently merged with Carnival Corporation in 2003, to form Carnival Corporation & plc. P&O Cruises currently operates seven cruise ships with a total passenger capacity of 14,970 and a 5% market share of all cruise lines worldwide.[1] Its most recent vessel, MV Britannia, joined the fleet in March 2015.

History of P&O passenger services

Strathaird of 1932 at Fremantle Harbour c.1950.
Oriana of 1960 at Vava'u, Tonga in 1985.
Canberra of 1961 in the Azores in 1984.
Oriana of 1995 at Las Palmas, Gran Canaria in 2003
Aurora departing Helsinki, Finland in May 2007.
Azura docked outside Willemstad, Curaçao in 2013.

19th century

P&O Cruises originates from 1822, with the formation of the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company, which began life as a partnership between Brodie McGhie Willcox, a London ship broker, and Arthur Anderson, a sailor from the Shetland Isles. The company first operated a shipping line with routes between England and the Iberian Peninsula, adopting the name Peninsular Steam Navigation Company.[2] In 1837, the company won a contract to deliver mail to the Peninsula,[2] with its first mail ship, RMS Don Juan, departing from London on 1 September 1837. The ship collected mail from Falmouth four days later, however it hit rocks on the homeward bound leg of the trip. The company's reputation survived only because all objects including mail were rescued.

In 1840, the company acquired a second contract to deliver mail to Alexandria, Egypt, via Gibraltar and Malta.[2] The company was incorporated by Royal Charter the same year, becoming the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company. At the time, the company had no ships available to use on the route, so agreed to merge with the Liverpool based Transatlantic Steamship Company, acquiring two ships, the 1,300-ton Great Liverpool and the newly built 1,600-ton Oriental.

P&O first introduced passenger services in 1844, advertising sea tours to destinations such as Gibraltar, Malta and Athens, sailing from Southampton. The forerunner of modern cruise holidays, these voyages were the first of their kind, and have led to P&O Cruises being recognised as the world's oldest cruise line. The company later introduced round trips to destinations such as Alexandria and Constantinople and underwent rapid expansion in the later half of the 19th century, with its ships becoming larger and more luxurious. Notable ships of the era include the SS Ravenna built in 1880, which became the first ship to be built with a total steel superstructure, and the SS Valetta built in 1889, which was the first ship to use electric lights.

20th century

In 1904 the company advertised its first cruise on the 6,000-ton Vectis, a ship specially fitted out for the purpose of carrying 150 first-class passengers. Ten years later the company merged with the British India Steam Navigation Company, leaving the fleet with a total of 197 ships. In the same year the company had around two-thirds of its fleet relinquished for war service. However, the company was fortunate and only lost 17 ships in the First World War, with a further 68 lost in subsidiary companies. A major event in the company's history took place in December 1918, when P&O purchased 51% of the Orient Steam Navigation Company, which had been previously operating jointly with P&O on the Australian mail contract. During the 1920s, P&O and Orient Line took delivery of over 20 passenger liners, allowing them to expand their operations once again. Cruises began operating once again in 1925, when Ranchi's maiden voyage was a cruise to Norway. During 1929, P&O offered 15 cruises, some aboard Viceroy of India, the company's first turbo-electric ship.

The P&O Group left the Second World War with a loss of 156 ships including popular liners such as Viceroy of India, Cathay, Oronsay and Orcades. By the late 1940s commercial aviation was beginning to take hold of the industry so newer ships became larger and faster, allowing the sailing time to Australia to be cut from five to four weeks. In 1955 P&O and Orient Lines ordered what were to be their last passenger liners -- the Canberra and Oriana. These fast ships bought the Australian run down another week to just three, with Oriana recording a top speed of just over 30 knots during trials.

The 1962 comedy film, Carry On Cruising, listed P&O Cruises in its credits, based on the original story by Eric Barker. The first Carry On film to be colourised, it used footage of P&O's cruise ship S.S. Oronsay as well as mock-up scenes shot at Pinewood studios.

P&O-Orient Lines

During 1961, P&O bought out the remaining stake in Orient Lines and renamed its passenger operations as P&O-Orient Lines. The decreasing popularity of line voyages during the 1960s and 1970s meant that cruising became an important deployment for these ships in-between line voyages. In 1971 the company reorganised its 100 subsidiaries and 239 ships into several operating divisions, one of which was The Passenger Division which began with 13 ships.

The 1970s was a grim time for the passenger liner as many young liners were sold for scrap. Princess Cruises was acquired in 1974 which allowed the almost new Spirit of London to be transferred to the Princess fleet. This left Canberra and Oriana to serve the UK market on their own, with Arcadia deployed in Australia and Uganda offering educational cruises.

P&O Princess Cruises

In February 2000, it was announced that all cruise ship operations, including P&O Cruises, were to be de-merged from the P&O group, forming a new independent company, P&O Princess Cruises. The company operated the P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, P&O Cruises Australia, AIDA Cruises and later A'Rosa Cruises and Ocean Village fleets, before merging with Carnival Corporation to form Carnival Corporation & plc in 2003.

P&O Cruises

In 1977, P&O re-branded its passenger division, creating P&O Cruises and P&O Cruises Australia. In February 1979 Kungsholm, a former Swedish American Line vessel, was acquired from Flagship Cruises and after a major refit was renamed Sea Princess. Operating out of Australia, she replaced Arcadia that was then sold to Taiwanese ship breakers. In spring 1982 Oriana replaced Sea Princess in Australia, leaving Sea Princess to be transferred to the UK. When Canberra returned from the Falklands War, Sea Princess was switched to the Princess fleet in 1986 leaving just the Canberra for the UK market. With Canberras withdrawal becoming ever more imminent, P&O ordered its first new ship for the British market, the Oriana, delivered in 1995. Canberra ran alongside her for two years until she was scrapped in 1997.

Canberra was replaced by Star Princess, renamed Arcadia. She became the first ship in the P&O fleet to be dedicated for adults only, a role that would be continued by her replacement Adonia, the second Sea Princess. In April 2000 Aurora, a half-sister ship to Oriana entered service for P&O. Although externally Aurora is similar to her half-sister Oriana, internally she is much different. Aurora also has a larger Gross Tonnage partly due to the fact that she has an enclosed centre swimming pool.

In 2003 Arcadia was transferred to the new Ocean Village brand and was renamed Ocean Village. At the same time, Oceana (ex Ocean Princess) and her sister the Adonia (ex Sea Princess) were transferred to the P&O fleet. Oceana remains with P&O but Adonia was transferred back to Princess Cruises in 2005, when she was replaced by the new Arcadia, an original Vista class design. Another former Princess ship, Artemis, joined P&O in 2005, and left the fleet in 2011 to be replaced by the second Adonia, the former Royal Princess. She is even smaller than the Artemis at 30,000 gross tons and is the smallest in the fleet. The advantage of her small size is that she can visit more remote places on her 'Discovery Voyages'.

As of 2012, the Arcadia, Adonia and the Oriana are adult-only ships.

P&O Cruises announced in June 2011 that it would expand its fleet with a 141,000-ton cruise ship, Britannia, built by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, she entered service in 2015.[3] P&O Cruises teamed up with British hotel designers, Richmond International, to design the interior of the new ship.

In January 2014, P&O Cruises unveiled plans to introduce a new fleet-wide livery based on the UK's Union Flag design to emphasise the line's British heritage.[4]

On 4 June 2015, it was announced that Adonia would be transferred to Fathom, a new brand of Carnival Corporation & plc, for a maiden voyage in April 2016.[5] It was later announced on 23 November 2016 that the Fathom brand would cease dedicated sailings and Adonia would be returning to the P&O fleet in June 2017.

On 5 September 2016, it was announced that a new 180,000 ton ship would be built for the British cruise market, delivery expected in 2020.[6] It will be the largest cruise ship in the P&O Fleet, as well as being the largest designed for the British market, surpassing its previous holder Britannia.[7] The new ship will be built by Meyer Werft at its shipyard in Papenburg, Germany and will feature the company's exclusive "green cruising" design as one of the first generation of cruise ships to be fully powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), shipping's most advanced fuel technology, which will significantly reduce air emissions.[8] This is known as project Gala, the name of the vessel does not relate to the project name.

In February 2018, the cruise line announced that MV Aurora would become the company's third adults-only ship after undergoing a dry dock in March 2019.[9]

Golden Cockerel

MV Oriana holds the Golden Cockerel trophy for the fastest ship in the P&O fleet. Previously held by SS Oriana it passed to SS Canberra on retirement of the first Oriana in 1986. On Canberras final cruise in 1997 the Golden Cockerel was handed over to the new Oriana when both ships were anchored off Cannes and sent boats out to perform the handover.


Current Fleet

Ship Class Built Entered service
for P&O Cruises
Gross Tonnage Flag Notes Image
Oriana 1995 1995 02 69,153  Bermuda[10] Refitted in 2016. Oriana in dock November 20, 2017 (37849009726).jpg
Aurora 2000 2000 03 76,152  Bermuda Refitted in 2014. Aurora departing Tallinn 29 May 2016 (cropped).jpg
Oceana Sun-class 2000 2002 04 77,499  Bermuda[10] Previously Ocean Princess for Princess Cruises. Refitted in 2017. MV Oceana entering Charleston harbor. (32498102711) (cropped) (cropped).jpg
Arcadia Vista-class 2005 2005 05 84,342  Bermuda Previously intended for Holland America Line and Cunard Line. Refitted in 2017. Arcadia departing Tallinn Port of Tallinn 27 June 2017
Ventura Grand-class 2008 2008 07 116,017  Bermuda Refitted in 2018. Ventura at Funchal 2 2016 (cropped).JPG
Azura Grand-class 2010 2010 06 115,055  Bermuda[11] Refitted in 2015. Azura departing Port of Tallinn 12 June 2016.jpg
Britannia Royal class 2015 2015 143,730  UK Fleet flagship. Largest cruise ship ever built for the UK market and for P&O Cruises.[3] Britannia arrival-1.jpg

Future Fleet

Ship Class Built Entering service
for P&O Cruises
Gross Tonnage Flag Notes Image
Iona Excellence class TBA 2020 185,000 TBC When built will become the largest cruise ship ever built for the British market with guest capacity for 5,200 guests. It will also be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas.[12]
TBC Excellence class TBC 2022[13] 185,000 TBC



External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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