P&O Cruises - company profile

puo cruises logoThat today under the name P & O Cruises operating company is only a small part of what was once the most glamorous shipping company in the British Empire. Originally everything had started so promisingly. The industrial revolution changed social and economic conditions in Great Britain in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Shipping companies became increasingly important. In 1834 the Peninsular Steam Navigation Company founded. It offered boat connections from Great Britain to the Iberian Peninsula. 

In 1840, the shipping company signed a contract with the British Admiralty to deliver mail to India. The contract was expanded to include East Asia in 1845, and from 1852 Australia and New Zealand were also included in the services. From 1858, routes connected Australia with the US Pacific ports and Vancouver in Canada. In line with the expanded business purpose, the company name was changed to Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company, Ltd. (P&O) changed. The steady business development led to the takeover of various British shipping companies in the following decades. P&O has become one of the leading shipping companies in the world.

P&O Ventura in Southampton

P&O Ventura in Southampton

In the 20th century, however, the problems increased. The company suffered heavy losses in ships and crews in the First World War. It took until the early 1930s to make up for these failures. With the onset of the global economic crisis, economic setbacks set in again. As these seemed to be overcome, the consequences of the Second World War put a strain on the company.

After the effects of the Second World War had been dealt with, both the independence efforts in the colonies and the emergence of airlines and container services with ships once again had a negative impact on the company's economic situation. A merger with the Orient Steam Navigation Company to P&O Orient Line Ltd. seemed to be the solution. However, the merger had only limited success. Society had to be completely restructured. From then on, the pillars of the business were the P&O Passenger Division and the P&O Cargo Division.

P&O Ventura in Castries on St Lucia

P&O Ventura in Castries on St Lucia

To strengthen the passenger area, in 1974 Princess Cruises acquired. P&O experienced a further appreciation of the cruise sector in 1988 with the acquisition of the Italian company Sitmar group. The last ones under construction were in 2000 AIDA Cruises adopted.

The entire multi-brand cruise division was sold to Carnival in 2003. The remaining freight and ferry activities were handled by December 2006.

When P&O Cruises is mentioned today, only those ships are meant that are operated under the company name of the Southampton-based shipping company. The trademark of all ships so far was the yellow chimney. The color of the chimneys will change to blue in the future. - The Princess Cruises and AIDA Cruises, which were sold together with P&O, have been restructured within the Carnival Group.

Features of the P&O ships - Yellow chimneys

Features of the P&O ships - Yellow chimneys

Economically independent from the British P&O Cruises P&O Cruises Australia. This company emerged from Sitmar Cruises, which was taken over by P&O in 1988. The company serves the Australian cruise market under the umbrella of the Carnival Group.

P&O Cruises is a British company through and through, whose ships exude a lot of British flair. The brand is aimed mainly at the British cruise enthusiast. The shipping company differentiates between family ships and those that should be used exclusively by adults ("Exclusively for Adults").

As of July 2015, eight ships are held. The flagship is the Britannia, which entered service in 2015 and was christened by Queen Elizabeth II.

P&O Britannia leaving the dry dock

Britannia © P & O Cruises - P&O Britannia leaving the dry dock


 Family ships

  • Aurora 76.000 GRT Godmother: Princess Anne

P&O Aurora after renovation in Hamburg

Aurora © P & O Cruises - P&O Aurora after renovation in Hamburg

  •  Azura 115.000 GRT Godmother: Ballerina Darcey Bussell


P&O Azura leaving Argostoli / Greece

P&O Azura leaving Argostoli / Greece

  •  Oceana 77.499 GRT Godmother: Princess Anne

P&O Oceana in St Kitts

P&O Oceana in St Kitts

  • Britannia 141.000 GRT Godmother: Queen Elizabeth II.
  • -Ventura 116.017 GRT Godmother: Lady Helen Mirren


Ships not suitable for family vacations

  • Adonia 30.300 GRT Godmother: Dame Shirley Bassey

P&O Adonia

Adonia © P&O Cruises

  •  Arcadia 83.500 GRT Godmother: Dame Kelly Holmes

P&O Arcadia leaves Southampton

P&O Arcadia leaves Southampton

  •  Oriana 69.000 GRT Godmother: Queen Elizabeth II.

Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of traveling on a P&O cruise ship will probably fondly remember what happened on board for a long time to come. - As a company of the Carnival Group, P&O has been trying to expand its activities in Germany since 2014. However, as long as the focus remains on the English language and even German-speaking hosts are missing on board the ships, the chances in Germany are not good for the company. 

P&O Ventura - Reception - German is not a ship language

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