P&O Cruises, Britannia, exterior
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Britannia P&O Cruises
P&O Cruises, Azura, Breakers Bar
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Azura's Breakers Bar P&O Cruises
P&O Cruises, Britannia, Cookery Club
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Cookery Club P&O Cruises
P&O Cruises, Britannia, afternoon tea
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Afternoon tea P&O Cruises
P&O Cruises, Britannia, stage show
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Stage show P&O Cruises
P&O Cruises, Britannia, Atrium
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Britannia's atrium P&O Cruises
P&O Cruises, Oceana, balcony cabin
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Oceana's balcony cabin P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises Review

P&O Cruises Review

P&O Cruises, Azura, atrium Azura's Atrium P&O Cruises

Best known as the world's first cruise line, P&O is a great choice for anglophiles looking to immerse themselves in Britishness. The fleet of seven mid-size and large ships attract a clientele that’s fiercely loyal, reveling in the traditional interpretation of cruising. (Picture early and late seatings at dinner with assigned tables, and a band that heralds your departure as the ship sails away.) It makes sense that the line — now part of Carnival Corporation — sticks close to the early traditions of cruising: It is generally accepted that P&O actually invented cruising following its founding in 1837. The company, then known as the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, placed an ad in a Scottish newspaper for a roundtrip voyage using the company’s burgeoning fleet of merchant ships. The rest, as they say, is history. 

What We Love

Dining: Specialty dining is now one of P&O’s biggest selling points — epitomized by its "Food Heroes" concept, where talented chefs bring their passion for food and drink onboard the newer ships in the fleet, especially Britannia.

Accommodation Options: The vast choices of cabins can be bewildering — there are often more 25 cabin categories on a given ship — but the variety and quality means you'll get a lot of value for your money.

Best Known For

British Ambiance: The company revels in its Britishness, which is reflected in the entertainment, cuisine (including daily afternoon tea and a proper pub with more than 70 beers from around the UK), and activities. A brass band plays rousing British music at most departures from Southampton.

Kids' Facilities: The Reef gives parents a time out from their kids aged two to 17. There are four distinct age-related clubs — all overseen by Reef Rangers.

Who It's Best For

Families: While P&O operates two of its ships exclusively for adults (Arcadia and Oriana), the other five are extremely family-friendly. Apart from The Reef children’s clubs, there’s a host of activities throughout the day for junior cruisers — mostly centered around an array of pools. The night nursery affords the chance for mom and dad to savor an evening by themselves.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

The Ocean Has Motion: Most cruises sail from Southampton and, for southbound sailings, this involves crossing the Bay of Biscay, where rolling waves can sometimes pack a punch.

Gary Buchanan

Gary Buchanan is a UK-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has written multiple books about cruising.

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