Five essential things you should know before boarding a P&O Cruises ship

Sailing from its home port of Southampton, P&O Cruises flies the flag for British cruising with wallet-friendly holidays tailored to UK tastes. As well as “no-fly” tours it offers good value flying holidays from London and nine regional airports to the Caribbean, Northern Europe, North America and the Mediterranean.

Seven ships of the line are remembered by the British. As well as curated cocktails, Elemis facials and body sculpting boot camps, there’s a kettle (and Twinings tea) in every cabin and passengers will always get a decent pint. Shoreside experiences and drinks can be purchased in advance in sterling and passengers can spread the cost of their holiday with monthly payments at no extra cost when booking direct with the line.

A new partnership with children’s cookery author Annabel Karmel will see refreshed children’s menus available across the dining venues and children’s tea available as an early dinner option.

Along with theater shows, live bands and comedy, the 2012 line offers free supervised kids’ clubs on its family-friendly ships. “Food Heroes” chef partnerships with Marco Pierre White, José Pizarro, Shivi Ramoutar and Kjartan Skjelde are popular, while wine critic Olly Smith curates an interesting selection of wines in the Glass House.

Fees include service, meals in main restaurants and poolside venues, kids’ clubs, babysitting and flights and transfers on cruise-flight holidays.

Nicole Scherzinger christened the newest ship in the line, the ArviaNicole Scherzinger christened the newest ship in the line, the Arvia

Nicole Scherzinger christened the newest ship in the line, Arvia – Getty

1. Where is he cruising?

There is a choice of over 200 destinations in the British Isles, Northern Europe (including Iceland and Norway), the Mediterranean, Portugal and Spain (including the Canary Islands) and North America and the Maritimes Caribbean. P&O Cruises offers World Cruises and short break cruises to Bruges, Amsterdam, Cherbourg, St Peter Port and Hamburg.

Winter 2024/5 holidays to the Caribbean by air-cruise are available on Arvia, from Barbados or Antigua and Britannia. Britannia will offer Caribbean fly-sea holidays in winter 2025/26 which will include calls in Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Grand Turk.

Iona will continue to offer a program of holidays in Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands and Azura will visit Tangier for the first time, on her fly-sea Canary Islands itinerary. In December 2025, Aurora will embark on an extended 14-night northern lights tour departing and returning from Southampton.

In January 2025 Arcadia will sail round-trip from Southampton on a 99-night Western Circumnavigation World Cruise visiting the USA, Central America, the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Shorter sector fares are available to book.

gin still in itgin still in it

Farewell: the first gin still at sea is a partnership between P&O Cruises and Salcombe Gin – Alun Callender for P&O Cruises

2. Who does it appeal to?

Five family-friendly ships, Arvia, Iona, Britannia, Azura and Ventura, have several pools, movie screens, kids’ clubs and babysitting services. They all fit the bill for families looking for short-haul fun and winter sun.

Performer Nicole Scherzinger is the creative force behind late-night contemporary shows performed in the SkyDome aboard Iona and Arvia and Gary Barlow is the musical director of The 710 Club on these ships.

Aurora and Arcadia cater to adults only.

Arvia at her naming ceremonyArvia at her naming ceremony

Arvia at her naming ceremony in the Caribbean, during which Nicole Scherzinger officially named the ship – Getty

3. P&O Cruises fleet

There are seven ships in the P&O Cruises fleet and no two ships are alike. Do your homework before booking.

Arvia (5,200 passengers)
The newest ship in the line offers 30 places to eat and drink and the ship’s SkyDome offers some of these as well as a pool and entertainment under a retractable glass roof. Elsewhere guests will find a spa, three other pools, a swim up bar and a 54 meter high ropes course. Guests can pay a premium for an open VIP deck area with cabanas, drinks and snacks and alfresco spa treatments.

Ships to: Caribbean, Mediterranean and Spain, Portugal and France

Iona (5,200 passengers)
Both Arvia and Iona are powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). Iona has more than 30 places to eat and drink as well as four swimming pools and 18 whirlpool spaces. She represents the first gin still at sea, in association with Devon’s Salcombe Gin, and Gary Barlow is the curator of live music at Club 710.

Ships to: Norwegian fjords, Canary Islands, Northern Europe and Scandinavia

Britannia (3,647 passengers)
Starting from a refit ahead of its 10th anniversary in 2025, Britannia has contemporary spaces, a stunning spa and an excellent open deck retreat area and Salon. Eleven dining venues include the intimate Limelight Club, the Epicurean and The Glass House, a Mediterranean-style tapas venue led by wine expert, Olly Smith and Local Food Hero, José Pizarro.

Shipped to: Fjords in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Norway

See Gary Barlow perform in a private lounge on board a P&O cruiseSee Gary Barlow perform in a private lounge on board a P&O cruise

Catch Gary Barlow performing in a private lounge on board a P&O cruise

Ventura (3,100 passengers)
Ventura has broad family-friendly appeal. Four swimming pools and a sports court for tennis, cricket, five-a-side and basketball will appeal to young cruisers. Kids can make friends in the Reef’s age-specific kids club and adults can kick back at the spa. Nine restaurants include The Glass House, The Waterside, Olly Smith and the whole family can enjoy meals in relaxed venues such as The Beach House.

Ships to: Caribbean, Canary Islands and Spain, Portugal and France

Azura (3,100 passengers)
Azura is family friendly and has a similar offering to sister ship Ventura. There are four swimming pools and good sports facilities (tennis, cricket, five-a-side and basketball) and there is a cinema under the stars for all the family. The theater hosts shows and talks and has a small casino and spa. Nine restaurants include The Glass House and The Waterside. Try the Indian-inspired Sindhu and The Epicurean for specialty food.

Ships to: Mediterranean and Canary Islands


From cinema to world-class West End shows to family-friendly swimming pools, there’s something for everyone

Aurora (1,874 passengers)
The smallest ship in the fleet has a more intimate feel and will suit those who prefer their cruising low key. The ship has a luxurious adults-only spa with a retractable roof over the pool and two-tier Penthouse Suites for those looking for a luxurious cabin. The ship will go into dry dock in April 2025 for refurbishment.

Ships to: Spain, Portugal and France, Mediterranean and Great Britain

Arcadia (2,094 passengers)
This is a mid-sized adult-only ship for passengers looking for fine dining and fewer distractions on board. There is a large spa, an art gallery, a three-stage theater and a boutique cinema. Arcadia is the only ship in the fleet with Marco Pierre White’s restaurant, the Ocean Grill. It also houses an Indian restaurant, Sindhu. Cabins are comfortable, if a little dated; The ship was last restored in 2017.

Sails to: Mediterranean, Northern Europe and World Cruises

With a relaxed ambiance, Arcadia is the only ship in the fleet with a Marco Pierre White restaurantWith a relaxed ambiance, Arcadia is the only ship in the fleet with a Marco Pierre White restaurant

Offering a relaxed ambiance, Arcadia is the only ship in the fleet with a Marco Pierre White restaurant

4. Loyalty Scheme

The P&O Cruises Peninsular Club has six suites. Nights on board will accrue points for future cruises. Benefits include priority booking and onboard credit.

5. Accessibility on board

Accessible cabin types include full wheelchair access, partially accessible and cabins suitable for a mobility scooter or profiled bed.

aurora greenhouseaurora greenhouse

The Glass House on board the P&O Cruises ship, Aurora

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