P&O Cruises

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P&O Cruises
HeadquartersSouthampton, England, UK
Area served
United Kingdom
Key people
  • Josh Weinstein (President, Carnival UK)
  • Paul Ludlow (President, P&O Cruises)
  • David Dingle (Chairman, Carnival UK)
ParentCarnival Corporation & plc
WebsiteP&O Cruises

P&O Cruises is a British cruise line based at Carnival House in Southampton, England, operated by Carnival UK and owned by Carnival Corporation & plc. It was founded in 1977 as a subsidiary of the shipping company P&O,[1] and traces its heritage to P&O's first passenger operations in 1837.[2] Along with P&O Cruises Australia, a sister company also founded by P&O, it has the oldest heritage of any cruise line in the world.[3][4]

P&O Cruises was divested from P&O in 2000, becoming a subsidiary of P&O Princess Cruises,[5] before coming under its current ownership in 2003, following a merger between P&O Princess Cruises and Carnival Corporation.[6] In 2018, the company had a 2.4% market share of all cruise lines worldwide.[7]



In 1834, Brodie McGhie Willcox, a ship broker from London, and Arthur Anderson, a sailor from the Shetland Islands, formed an association with Captain Richard Bourne, a steamship owner from Dublin.[8] In 1837, the trio won a contract and began transporting mail and passengers from England to the Iberian Peninsula, founding the Peninsular Steam Navigation Company.[9][2] In 1840, the company merged with the Transatlantic Steam Ship Company and expanded their operations to the Orient, becoming the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O).[10] In 1844, P&O expanded its passenger operations from transportation to leisure cruising, operating sailings from England to the Mediterranean that were the first of their kind.[2] By the mid-1900s, passenger shipping for the purposes of transportation was threatened by the increasing affordability of air travel.[11] Consequently, in the 1970s, P&O dedicated its passenger operations entirely to leisure cruising and, in 1977, relisted its passenger ships under the new subsidiary P&O Cruises.[1]

20th century[edit]

Canberra of 1961 in Ponta Delgada, Azores in 1984
Oriana of 1995 at Las Palmas, Gran Canaria in 2003

Initially, P&O Cruises operated Oriana and Canberra from Southampton, serving the UK market,[12][13] and Arcadia from Sydney, serving the Australian market,[14] while Uganda operated educational cruises.[15] In 1979, Arcadia departed the Australian fleet[14] and was replaced by Sea Princess, which had previously been Kungsholm for Flagship Cruises.[16] In 1981, Oriana relocated to serve the Australian market,[12] while Sea Princess relocated to serve the UK market in 1982.[16] The same year, Canberra was requisitioned as a troopship during the Falklands War,[17] while Uganda was requisitioned as a hospital ship.[18] Uganda departed the fleet shortly thereafter, in 1983.[18] Oriana departed the Australian fleet in March 1986,[19] and Sea Princess departed the UK fleet in November 1986.[16] Rather than relocating another ship to Australia, P&O diverged its Australian operations in 1988, acquiring Sitmar Cruises, which already operated a ship in Australia.[12] This led to the formation of P&O Cruises Australia, which would oversee Australian operations, while P&O Cruises continued to oversee UK operations.[3]

In the 1990s, P&O Cruises commissioned its first newbuild cruise ship, the second Oriana, which entered service in April 1995.[20] At 69,153 gross tons, the new Oriana was one of the largest cruise ships in the world.[21] Sea Princess also returned to the fleet in 1995, under the new name Victoria.[16] Canberra departed the fleet in 1997 and was replaced the same year by a second Arcadia, which had previously been Star Princess for Princess Cruises.[13] In 2000, Aurora, another newbuild and a half-sister to Oriana, entered service for P&O Cruises.[22] However, her service suffered an inauspicious start when she was forced to abandon her maiden voyage due to mechanical problems.[22] The same year, P&O divested all its cruise operations and formed the independent company P&O Princess Cruises, which now owned P&O Cruises.[5]

21st century[edit]

Britannia of 2015 in Rotterdam, Netherlands in 2019, bearing the company's post-2014 livery

In 2002, Victoria departed the fleet[16] and Oceana joined, having previously been Ocean Princess for Princess Cruises.[23] In 2003, the ownership of P&O Cruises changed once again when P&O Princess Cruises merged with Carnival Corporation to form Carnival Corporation & plc.[6] Thereafter, Arcadia transferred to Carnival Corporation & plc's new Ocean Village brand.[24] Adonia, previously Sea Princess and a sister to Oceana, replaced Arcadia but returned to Princess Cruises in 2005.[25] Adonia was replaced the same year by a newbuild Arcadia, which was allocated to P&O Cruises after having originally been intended for Holland America Line and thereafter Cunard Line.[26] Arcadia was joined by Artemis, previously Royal Princess for Princess Cruises.[27] The fleet expanded and modernised with the addition of the 116,017-ton newbuild Ventura in 2008,[28] and her sister Azura in 2010.[29] Artemis departed the fleet in 2011[30] and was replaced by a second Adonia, which like Artemis had previously been Royal Princess for Princess Cruises.[31]

In 2012, P&O Cruises celebrated the 175th anniversary of the Peninsular Steam Navigation Company by staging a 'Grand Event', in which the entire fleet was assembled in Southampton.[32] In 2014, the company introduced a new livery, based on the Union Jack, to emphasise its British heritage,[33] and in 2015, the 143,730-ton newbuild Britannia joined the fleet.[34] Adonia transferred to Carnival Corporation & plc's new Fathom brand in April 2016,[35] but would return the following year.[36] In September 2016, P&O Cruises announced that it would build a new 180,000-ton ship in 2020,[37] and in 2018, it announced that a sister would follow in 2022,[38] and that the first of the two would be called Iona.[39] These ships would be the UK's first to be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), shipping's most advanced fuel technology, with the intention of reducing air emissions.[40] Adonia departed the fleet once again in 2018,[41] and Oriana followed in 2019.[42]

Golden Cockerel[edit]

P&O Cruises awards the company's Golden Cockerel trophy to the fastest ship in its fleet.[13] The trophy is currently held by Aurora, which achieved a speed of 25.7 knots in April 2019.[43] It was previously held by the first Oriana until her retirement in 1986,[13] Canberra until her retirement in 1997,[13] and the second Oriana until her retirement in 2019.[44]


Current fleet[edit]

Ship Built Builder In service for
P&O Cruises
Gross tonnage Flag[45] Notes Image
Aurora 2000 Meyer Werft 2000–present 03 76,152  Bermuda Aurora departing Tallinn 29 May 2016 (cropped).jpg
Oceana 2000 Fincantieri 2002–present 04 77,499  Bermuda Ocean Princess for Princess Cruises (2000–2002). MV Oceana entering Charleston harbor. (32498102711) (cropped) (cropped).jpg
Arcadia 2005 Fincantieri 2005–present 05 84,342  Bermuda Arcadia departing Tallinn Port of Tallinn 27 June 2017
Ventura 2008 Fincantieri 2008–present 07 116,017  Bermuda Ventura at Funchal 2 2016 (cropped).JPG
Azura 2010 Fincantieri 2010–present 06 115,055  Bermuda Azura departing Port of Tallinn 12 June 2016.jpg
Britannia 2015 Fincantieri 2015–present 143,730  United Kingdom Flagship;[34] largest ever cruise ship built for P&O Cruises and the UK market.[46] Britannia arrival-1.jpg

Future fleet[edit]

Ship Built Builder In service for
P&O Cruises
Gross Tonnage[47] Flag Notes
Iona 2020 Meyer Werft 2020 07 183,900 TBC Due to be the largest ever and first LNG-powered cruise ship built for P&O Cruises and the UK market.[39]
TBA 2022 Meyer Werft 2022 06 183,900 TBC Due to be the joint-largest ever cruise ship built for P&O Cruises and the UK market.[38]

Previous fleet[edit]

Ship Built Builder In service for
P&O Cruises
Gross tonnage Flag Notes Image
Arcadia 1954 John Brown & Company 1977–1979 29,734  UK Arcadia for P&O (1954–1977). Scrapped in 1979. P&O ship SS Arcadia docked in Vancouver in 1974.jpg
Uganda 1952 Barclay Curle 1977–1983 14,430  UK Uganda for the British India Steam Navigation Company (1952–1972), P&O (1972–1977) and the Royal Navy (1983–1985). Scrapped in 1992. SS Uganda Helsinki Harbour 1980s.jpg
Oriana 1960 Vickers-Armstrong 1977–1986 41,910  UK Oriana for P&O (1960–1977); floating hotel/museum (1986–2004). Scrapped in 2005. Oriana Kowloon 1984.jpg
Canberra 1961 Harland and Wolff 1977–1997 49,073  UK Canberra for P&O (1961–1977). Scrapped in 1997. SS Canberra.jpg
Sea Princess/Victoria 1965 John Brown & Company 1979–1986 (as Sea Princess), 1995–2002 (as Victoria) 27,670  UK Kungsholm for Swedish America Line (1966–1975) and Flagship Cruises (1975–1978); Sea Princess for Princess Cruises (1986–1995); Mona Lisa for Holiday Kreuzfahrten (2002–2006); Oceanic II for Louis Cruises (2007), Pullmantur Cruises (2007) and The Scholar Ship (2007–2008); Mona Lisa for Lord Nelson Seereisen (2008), Peace Boat (2008–2009) and Lord Nelson Seereisen (2009–2010). Scrapped in 2016. Sea Princess Venice 1986.jpg
Arcadia 1988 Chantiers de l'Atlantique 1997–2003 63,500  UK Star Princess for Princess Cruises (1989–1997); Ocean Village for Ocean Village (2003–2010); Pacific Pearl for P&O Cruises Australia (2010–2017); Columbus for Cruise & Maritime Voyages (2017–present). Arcadia Station Pier.jpg
Adonia 1998 Fincantieri 2003–2005 77,499  UK Sea Princess for Princess Cruises (1998–2003, 2005–present). Sea Princess departing Tallinn - Port of Tallinn 3 July 2016.jpg
Artemis 1984 Wärtsilä 2005–2011 44,348  Bermuda Royal Princess for Princess Cruises (1984–2005); Artania for Phoenix Reisen (2011–present). Cruiseship Artemis near Vlaardingen NL.jpg
Adonia 2001 Chantiers de l'Atlantique 2011–2016, 2017–2018 30,277  Bermuda R Eight for Renaissance Cruises (2001–2003); Minerva II for Swan Hellenic (2003–2007); Royal Princess for Princess Cruises (2007–2011); Adonia for Fathom (2016–2017); Azamara Pursuit for Azamara Club Cruises (2018–present). Adonia.jpg
Oriana 1995 Meyer Werft 1995–2019 02 69,153  Bermuda Piano Land for Astro Ocean (2019–present).[48] MV Oriana alongside in Eidfjord.jpg


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External links[edit]