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Your guide to P&O Cruises: What you need to know about the cruise line

Author: Susan Johnson

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P&O Cruises are the perfect way to escape your chaotic routine and enter a world where all your needs are cared for. This is what you need to know about the line.

P&O Cruises is the favourite cruise line of many British cruisers. And it is pretty easy to see why so many continue to choose P&O.

Through its impressive range of small to mid-size fleet, P&O offers something for everyone onboard.

The line serves up exceptional service, attention to detail and delicious cuisine at affordable prices.

In this guide, we cover everything you should know about this prestigious cruise line – from its history to a comprehensive array of destinations.

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A brief history of P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises had humble beginnings as a shipping company named Peninsular Steam Navigation Company sailing between England and the Iberian Peninsula in 1837. In its early years, it was the first line to transport tea leaves from China to Britain. And it was 22 years after the formation of P&O Cruises the brand began offering passenger services – again the first of their kind.

Times may have moved on but P&O Cruises still continue to offer unbeatable experiences and services to their customers. After all, there is a reason why it boasts an unparalleled number of returning passengers.

- READ MORE: P&O Cruises summer 2024 itineraries from Ibiza to the Arctic -

Meet the P&O Cruises fleet

Currently, the P&O Cruises fleet includes six ships (soon to be seven): Arvia, Iona, Britannia, Azura, Ventura, Arcadia and Aurora.

Each ship offers unique features and something different for every type of traveller. The fleet can be distinguished into two categories—adults-only and family-friendly.

Sail on P&O's Aurora for an adult-only experience. Credit: Shutterstock

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Adults-Only Cruise Ships

Arcadia

This 2,094-passenger ship is the perfect blend of classic and modern. It joined the P&O Cruises fleet in 2005 and sails to Canada, the Caribbean, and Europe. You will find everything you need onboard Arcadia, from bodily relaxations to theatre, art, and film. Rest assured, you will have a quiet and reflective voyage.

- READ MORE: From Iona to Britannia, which P&O cruise ship is best for you? -

Aurora

Aurora joined the fleet in 2000. A 1,874-passenger ship, it sails to the Caribbean, Canada, Europe and South America.

Aurora displays a wide array of facilities and activities, mouth-watering cuisine, exquisite entertainment, a multi-deck waterfall and a stunning promenade deck. The atmosphere is both fun and welcoming so you can make the most of your time at sea onboard this luxurious ship.

Sail on Azura for a relaxing experience that has activities available for the whole family. Credit: Shutterstock

Family-friendly cruise ships

Arvia

Arvia joined the fleet in December 2022 with the aim to help passengers see the world in widescreen – offering more freedom, choices, sunnier vibes and breath-taking views. She will have a lot of features similar to her sister ship Iona, plus some special additional surprises of her own.

Azura

This 3,100-passenger offers fun for the entire family. Holding an enormous variety of spa treatments, haute cuisine restaurants, age-specific entertainment, and sports facilities, Azura is perfect for a more relaxed voyage.

Britannia

An epitome of style and glamour, Britannia joined the P&O Cruises fleet in 2015 and sails to the Caribbean and Europe. The ship takes inspiration from the past but was designed for the future. Hence, she appeals to both beginners as well as sea veterans.

- READ MORE: Iona sails maiden season to Norway - what's onboard? -

Iona

If you are looking for the ultimate cruise experience, Iona is your girl. Having joined the P&O Cruises fleet in 2020, she features the best onboard dining experiences, venues, and amenities.

Ventura

Sailing to Europe and the Caribbean, the much-loved Ventura is famous for her variety. Whether you are looking for some relaxing time at the deck theatre, a foodie excited to feast at 12 different dining spots, or a parent looking to offer the best adventure for your kids, you will definitely find something on board with Ventura.

Most of P&O's fleet caters for the entire family to make sure everyone has a great time onboard. Credit: Shutterstock

P&O Cruises destinations

P&O Cruises’ fleet sails to all four corners of the world. The line offers an extensive array of options both close to home and further afield. Onboard a P&O Caribbean cruise, you will get to sail to Antigua, Aruba, Barbados, Bermuda and Grenada. Take a P&O Norwegian fjords cruise, and you will get to witness the dramatic scenery of Alesund, Flam, Geiranger and Trondheim.

- READ MORE: P&O Cruises delivers brand new ship Arvia - what's onboard? -

P&O Cruises dress code

Evening dress codes form an integral part of your overall cruising experience. P&O Cruises permits casual wear throughout the day. You can sport your typical holiday wardrobes, such as T-shirts, shorts, sundresses and more. Guests are asked to wear shoes away from the pool, in the lounges, inside bars, restaurants and at reception.

P&O Cruises asks guests to pack light layers as it gets chilly on deck and breezy in the evening. It also recommends flat shoes to be worn on the decks.

P&O Cruises has two evening dress codes for the evening hours (after 6pm) – Evening Casual and Black Tie. Black Tie nights give you the opportunity to dress up in glamorous evening wear. Think cocktail dresses, ball gowns, tuxedos, dinner jackets, dark business suits and ties. On the other hand, Evening Casual nights let you dress as you would for dinner in a nice restaurant. Dark denim or trousers paired with a nice shirt or skirts with blouses and dresses would make an ideal option.

The only exception to these two evening dress codes are the theme nights on P&O Cruises. This is when you get into some serious fun for themes such as 70s disco, 80s pop, colourful tropical, or splendid black and white nights.

P&O cruises sail all over the world so you can check your dream destinations off your bucket list. Credit: Shutterstock

Can you opt-out of tipping on P&O Cruises?

Since May 2019, P&O Cruises are no longer billing guests for mandatory gratuities. So, you can relax knowing that good services are all part of your P&O Cruises holiday. The services included in their cruise price cover:

  • Food
  • Accommodation
  • Entertainment
  • Gym
  • Pools & Relaxation
  • Sports Deck
  • Dance Classes
  • Shuttle Buses in Port
  • Children’s Club
  • Flights & Transfers

- READ MORE: Singer Lance Ellington discusses performing with P&O Cruises -

At an additional cost, you can purchase:

  • Dining at speciality restaurants
  • Room service
  • Onboard shopping
  • Casino
  • Photography
  • The cookery club on Britannia
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