P&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
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 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

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

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

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

ShipBuiltBuilderIn service for
P&O Cruises
Gross tonnageFlag[45]NotesImage
Aurora2000Meyer Werft2000–present03 76,152 Bermuda
Oceana2000Fincantieri2002–present04 77,499 BermudaOcean Princess for Princess Cruises (2000–2002).
Arcadia2005Fincantieri2005–present05 84,342 Bermuda
Ventura2008Fincantieri2008–present07 116,017 Bermuda
Azura 2010Fincantieri2010–present06 115,055 Bermuda
Britannia2015Fincantieri2015–present143,730 United KingdomFlagship;[34] largest ever cruise ship built for P&O Cruises and the UK market.[46]

Future fleet

ShipBuiltBuilderIn service for
P&O Cruises
Gross Tonnage[47]FlagNotes
Iona2020Meyer Werft202007 183,900TBCDue to be the largest ever and first LNG-powered cruise ship built for P&O Cruises and the UK market.[39]
TBA2022Meyer Werft202206 183,900TBCDue to be the joint-largest ever cruise ship built for P&O Cruises and the UK market.[38]

Previous fleet

ShipBuiltBuilderIn service for
P&O Cruises
Gross tonnageFlagNotesImage
Arcadia1954John Brown & Company1977–197929,734 UKArcadia for P&O (1954–1977). Scrapped in 1979.
Uganda1952Barclay Curle1977–198314,430 UKUganda for the British India Steam Navigation Company (1952–1972), P&O (1972–1977) and the Royal Navy (1983–1985). Scrapped in 1992.
Oriana1960Vickers-Armstrong1977–198641,910 UKOriana for P&O (1960–1977); floating hotel/museum (1986–2004). Scrapped in 2005.
Canberra1961Harland and Wolff1977–199749,073 UKCanberra for P&O (1961–1977). Scrapped in 1997.
Sea Princess/Victoria1965John Brown & Company1979–1986 (as Sea Princess), 1995–2002 (as Victoria)27,670 UKKungsholm 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.
Arcadia1988Chantiers de l'Atlantique1997–200363,500 UKStar 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).
Adonia1998Fincantieri2003–200577,499 UKSea Princess for Princess Cruises (1998–2003, 2005–present).
Artemis1984Wärtsilä2005–201144,348 BermudaRoyal Princess for Princess Cruises (1984–2005); Artania for Phoenix Reisen (2011–present).
Adonia2001Chantiers de l'Atlantique2011–2016, 2017–201830,277 BermudaR 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).
Oriana1995Meyer Werft1995–201902 69,153 BermudaPiano Land for Astro Ocean (2019–present).[48]


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