|Predecessor(s)||Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company|
|Area served||United Kingdom|
|Key people||David Dingle (CEO Carnival UK)|
|Parent||Carnival Corporation & plc|
P&O Cruises is a British-American owned cruise line based at Carnival House in Southampton, England, and operated by Carnival UK. 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 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. Its most recent vessel MS Adonia joined the fleet in May 2011.
History of P&O passenger services
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. In 1837, the company won a contract to deliver mail to the Peninsula, 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. 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.
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.
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.
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 Canberra's 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 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.
As of 2012, the Arcadia, Adonia and the Oriana are adult-only ships.
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.
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 Canberra's 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.
P&O Cruises operates a modern fleet of 7 ships:
|Arcadia||2005||2005||84,342 GT (post 2013 refit)||Bermuda||Originally ordered as Queen Victoria for Cunard Line, transferred to P&O during construction|
|Ventura||2008||2008||116,017 GT||Bermuda||The largest cruise ship to enter service with P&O Cruises|
On 1 June 2011, Carnival Corporation & plc announced an order from Fincantieri for a new 145,000 ton cruise ship for P&O. The ship, unnamed at the time of the announcement, is to have a capacity of 3,611 people, and will enter service in 2015. According to the P&O Peninsular club magazine, the new ship will have 14 passenger decks and 1,819 cabins. P&O Cruises has also teamed up with British Hotel designers, Richmond International to design the interior of the new ship. On 15 May 2013, the keel of the new ship was laid at the Monfalcone shipyard of Fincantieri near Trieste, in Italy. The keel laying involved the placement in the dry dock of the first section of the ship’s hull. On 24 September 2013 it was reported that the ship would be named Britannia. The ceremonial float out took place on the afternoon of the 14 February 2014, with the traditional champagne bottle smashed against the vessel's hull.
|Ship||Will enter service
|Britannia||2015||145,000 GT||Largest cruise ship to be built for the UK market.|
- "2012 World Wide Market Share". Cruise Market Watch. 2011-11-20.
- A Brief History of P&O
- "USA: Fincantieri Receives Order from Carnival Corps to Build New Cruise Ship". Shipbuilding Tribune. 2 June 2011. Archived from the original on 2 October 2011. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
- "P&O Cruises reveals new Union Flag livery". Travel Weekly (UK). 2014-01-16.
- Azura vessel details
- "Shipping News 2006". Maritime Matters. 2008-11-23. Archived from the original on 2007-12-13. Retrieved 2008-03-19.
- "Keel Laid for P&O Cruises’ 141,000-Ton Cruise Ship". World Maratime News. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
- King, Martin (24 September 2013). "P&O unveils mega-cruise ship Britannia". Independent. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
- "Britannia rules the waves! - P&O's Britannia". On Board Boats. Retrieved 14 February 2014.
- "Introducing the most exciting P&O Cruises experience yet". P&O Cruises. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
- P&O:The Fleet - Miles Cowsill, John Hendy, William Mayes 2000 ISBN 1-871947-54-5
- Cruise Ships - William Mayes 2005 ISBN 0-9547206-1-X
- Artemis Last Cruise
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to P&O Cruises.|
- P&O Cruises Official Website
- P&O Cruises North America Website
- P&O Cruises Australia Website
- The Last Ocean Liners (trade routes and ships of P&O-Orient Lines in the 1950s, 60s and 70s)