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