Kiwis love a good P&O cruise - but did you know that P&O Australia and P&O UK are two very different cruise lines? We've put together some information about the lesser known, latter of the two so that you can find out if it's worth a trip across the globe!
P&O Cruises: A short history
Perhaps one of the most impressive facts about the Southampton-based version of P&O is that it holds title as the oldest - and one of the most prestigious - cruise lines in the world.
In the 1820s, P&O began shipping cargo between England and the Iberian Peninsula. Over the next few decades, the line received mail contracts and would deliver post to the Peninsula and Egypt. They were incorporated by the Royal Charter in 1840 and joined forces with the Transatlantic Steamship Company, leading the company to another name change; the â€œPeninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company.â€
The line began taking passengers on â€œsea toursâ€ in 1844 to incredible destinations including Athens and Malta. As popularity spread, they began to grow their itineraries as well as their ship sizes. After losing 156 of their ships to World War II and with the introduction of commercial aviation, the company were fighting to survive - and so joined the Carnival Corporation. They remain a part of the company today, featuring a fleet of eight ships and a huge list of itineraries departing out of Southampton in England.
The P&O difference
So, what makes them so popular? Check out some of P&O UK's 'best bits' below:
- P&O pride themselves on a truly British of cruise which many holiday makers love - down to the perfect cup of English breakfast!
- Included in the fleet are three purpose-built ships exclusively for adults. If relaxation is at the top of your list, this is great news!
- P&O passengers enjoy great service including cabin stewards, nightly turndowns, pool attendants, and more.
- Strictly Come Dancing themed cruises are fantastic for those who value the glamorous ballroom side of ocean travel.
- Understated and elegant, this line is a little more on the traditional side - not quite Cunard, but certainly no extravagant and flashy Carnival ship. Some cruisers love that, some don't.
- World Cruises and lengthy itineraries are a specialty.
Is P&O for me?
P&O offer a range of ships that can be a perfect match for any cruiser. Whether you are looking for a family holiday that you'll enjoy as much as the kids or a quiet escape into a child-free haven, there's a ship to suit you. The cruise industry seems to be saturated with North American-style lines at the moment, so the authentic British style onboard P&O can make for a wonderful change. And, of course, Strictly Come Dancing fans would choose no other line.
Won't somebody please think of the children?
Although the novelty of the three adults-only ships is an incredible feature for some cruisers, it certainly isn't the only group they wish to target. Five vessels in their fleet - the Aurora, Azura, Britannia, Oceana and Ventura - were designed to prove the whole family with an unforgettable onboard experience, from the splash pools to the all-day entertainment to the family accommodation options.
P&O kids clubs can keep every child from two to seventeen engaged, enthused and interacting with other kids and teens their age all day long. Take them along to Splashers if they're two to four years old, Surfers if they're five to eight, Scubas if they're nine to twelve and H20 if they are over 13. By placing everyone amongst similar age groups, the activities can be designed to attract and entertain even those most difficult to please - so whether you've got toddlers or tweens, they'll be getting the social interaction and mental stimulation they need to keep boredom at bay!
Diversity of options
Variety is the spice of life, and P&O truly understand this. Their fleet offer a range of ships that vary in size, decor and features - so, after a little research under your belt, you're sure to find the ship that will suit you and yours down to a T. Prefer intimate small ships over action-packed mega-ships, or vice versa? Are you looking for a quick getaway or a long voyage? No matter what atmosphere you're hoping for, P&O have got you covered.
Arcadia, Aurora, Ventura and more: What you'll find on the P&O fleet
The variety of P&O's fleet means it's difficult for us to pinpoint the onboard experience. But the inability to put it into words is a wonderfully accurate reflection of the great time available onboard any of the ships! From the 710-passenger Adonia to the 3,647-passenger Britannia, there are many differences between each and every one of the line's fleet. Take a look at these key features on P&O that can be found throughout the many ships:
These are a speciality of P&O UK, both in quantity and quality. The family-oriented Aurora and the two adults-only Arcadia and Oriana make up three of the mid-sized ships and all offer voyages right around the globe. The vessels have been designed with lengthy trips in mind, providing chic comfort that make travelling the world a thoroughly enjoyable affair. With brilliant service, yummy food and a variety of entertainment, this line is a brilliant contender for those looking for an extended cruise.
Passengers can choose from either set-seated Club dining or Freedom dining in the ship's main restaurants, or grab a plate at their own leisure in the buffet. Specialty dining can also be found on each ship, offering even more delicious meals for an additional fee - although, still a fraction of the price you'd pay on land! No matter where you dine, you'll find a classic UK influence throughout the menus - including hot meat pies for dinner and a traditional English breakfast when you wake up!
Throughout the fleet, for-fee eateries are a popular way to spend special occasions or just to treat oneself to an exceptional dining experience. Take your pick from contemporary British cuisine at Marco Pierre White's Ocean Grill, a-la-carte restaurant and wine bar, the Glass House, and good, old-fashioned curries and Indian plates at Sindhu. These can vary, but you'll definitely have lots of dining options to choose from.
London's West End is a must-see on land, and P&O have brought this to the ocean! Guests will be treated to a variety of shows and productions in the main theatres, alongside the ever popular Strictly Come Dancing performances on themed itineraries. If you'd prefer to socialise with friends, family and other passengers, be sure to check out one of the ship's many bars and lounges. You'll find live music, dancing, sports games and live piano - or just a quiet space to relax with a cocktail if you'd prefer some downtime.
The overnight port stays are a unique feature of P&O UK, providing cruisers with the opportunity to explore destinations by night. Check out your itinerary to see if there are any night stays on your cruise, and make the most of the incredible experience onshore. You may have an evening in Venice, Barcelona, St Petersburg, New York or in somewhere even more exotic!
Sea days need not be any less exciting than the days you spend in port. Get your blood pumping in the gym or at a dance class, challenge yourself to a game of trivia or learn something new at a workshop or seminar. The jampacked schedules for each day will keep boredom at bay - and you'll soon realise that time on the ship can be just as fun as exploring new destinations.
P&O UK understand the importance of the little things, and have done since it entered the cruise industry long ago. Afternoon tea, quoits on deck, ballrooms and black tie formal nights capture the true essence of cruising and provide passengers with a nostalgic experience similar to that of the golden era of ocean travel. Remaining honest to its British roots, hearty meals, traditional English pubs and belly-warming pints of beer are partnered to perfection with fantastic comedy, a hot cup of Horlicks in bed and a bunch of strong-accented Brits present on most ships.
The English do love their tea, and each cabin has been fitted with its own tea-making facilities - so you won't even need to get out of bed before you've enjoyed a nice cup of Rosy Lee. No wonder Britons are such big fans of P&O!
2015 introduced another ship to the line's fleet; the Britannia. She was officially named by her majesty the Queen, and the understated luxury aboard complements her wonderfully. Decked out from head to toe with Union Jack livery, the new vessel brings with her four marvellous shows in the Headliners Theatre and a cookery club for everyone looking to share and learn fresh tips and tricks. It's an incredible addition to the fleet, and one that encapsulates the spirit of P&O UK.
P&O UK for Kiwi cruisers
Wondering how you'll get to experience all of this? You could jump aboard one the World Cruise legs leaving from Brisbane or Sydney. Take a look at Cruise Sale Finder's P&O UK cruises for inspiration.
Of course, you could always incorporate a cruise into your next European holiday. Southampton is the home base for most of P&O UK's departures, so taking a week or two cruise out of England is an easy feat. Take a look at itineraries on the Azura, the Britannia and the Ventura, heading along the stunning Mediterranean coast, the British Isles or the chilly, scenic Norwegian fjords. If you'd like to go even further afield, add on a transatlantic trip to the sunny Caribbean and back.
Immerse yourself in culture with a port-intensive cruise on one of the Oceana's Mediterranean voyages departing from Genoa or Venice, or dive head first into the Black Sea aboard the Adonia for a month of stunning sights and sounds. You'll find it all on P&O UK!