P&O House Flag
|Headquarters||Southampton, England, UK|
|Parent||Carnival Corporation & plc|
P&O Cruises was founded in 1977 as a subsidiary of the shipping and logistics company P&O, which was founded in 1837 and first operated cruises in 1844. Therefore P&O Cruises, along with its sister company P&O Cruises Australia, has the oldest heritage of any cruise line in the world. In 2000, P&O Cruises de-merged from P&O, becoming a subsidiary of P&O Princess Cruises, which in 2003 merged with Carnival Corporation to form Carnival Corporation & plc. P&O Cruises currently operates six cruise ships and has a 2.4% market share of all cruise lines worldwide.
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. 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. 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). 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. By the mid-1900s, passenger shipping for the purposes of transportation was threatened by the increasing affordability of air travel. Consequently, P&O dedicated its passenger operations entirely to leisure cruising and, in 1977, relisted its passenger ships under the new subsidiary P&O Cruises.
Initially, P&O Cruises operated Oriana and Canberra from Southampton, serving the UK market, and Arcadia from Sydney, serving the Australian market, while Uganda operated educational cruises. In 1979, Arcadia departed the Australian fleet and was replaced by Sea Princess, which had previously been Kungsholm for Flagship Cruises. In 1981, Oriana relocated to serve the Australian market, while Sea Princess relocated to serve the UK market in 1982. The same year, Canberra was requisitioned as a troopship during the Falklands War, while Uganda was requisitioned as a hospital ship. Uganda departed the fleet shortly thereafter, in 1983. Oriana departed the Australian fleet in March 1986, and Sea Princess departed the UK fleet in November 1986. 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. This led to the formation of P&O Cruises Australia, which would oversee Australian operations, while P&O Cruises continued to oversee UK operations.
In the 1990s, P&O Cruises commissioned its first newbuild cruise ship, the second Oriana, which entered service in April 1995. At 69,153 gross tons, the new Oriana was one of the largest cruise ships in the world. Sea Princess also returned to the fleet in 1995, under the new name Victoria. 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. In 2000, Aurora, another newbuild and a half-sister to Oriana, entered service for P&O Cruises. However, her service suffered an inauspicious start when she was forced to abandon her maiden voyage due to mechanical problems. The same year, all cruise operations de-merged from P&O and formed the independent company P&O Princess Cruises, which now owned P&O Cruises.
In 2002, Victoria departed the fleet and Oceana joined, having previously been Ocean Princess for Princess Cruises. 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. Thereafter, Arcadia transferred to Carnival Corporation & plc's new Ocean Village brand. Adonia, previously Sea Princess and a sister to Oceana, replaced Arcadia but returned to Princess Cruises in 2005. 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. Arcadia was joined by Artemis, previously Royal Princess for Princess Cruises. The fleet expanded and modernised with the addition of the 116,017-ton newbuild Ventura in 2008, and her sister Azura in 2010. Artemis departed the fleet in 2011 and was replaced by a second Adonia, which like Artemis had previously been Royal Princess for Princess Cruises.
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. In 2014, the company introduced a new livery, based on the Union Jack, to emphasise its British heritage, and in 2015, the 143,730-ton newbuild Britannia joined the fleet. Adonia transferred to Carnival Corporation & plc's new Fathom brand in April 2016, but would return the following year. In September 2016, P&O Cruises announced that it would build a new 180,000-ton ship in 2020, and in 2018, it announced that a sister would follow in 2022, and that the first of the two would be called Iona. 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. Adonia departed the fleet once again in 2018, and Oriana followed in 2019.
P&O Cruises awards the company’s Golden Cockerel trophy to the fastest ship in its fleet. The trophy is currently held by Aurora, which achieved a speed of 25.7 knots in April 2019. It was previously held by the first Oriana until her retirement in 1986, Canberra until her retirement in 1997, and the second Oriana until her retirement in 2019.
|Ship||Built||Builder||In service for
|Oceana||2000||Fincantieri||2002–present||77,499||Bermuda||Ocean Princess for Princess Cruises 2000–2002.|
|Britannia||2015||Fincantieri||2015–present||143,730||United Kingdom||Flagship, largest ever cruise ship built for P&O Cruises and the UK market.|
|Ship||Built||Builder||In service for
|Iona||2020||Meyer Werft||2020||183,900||TBC||Due to be the largest ever and first LNG-powered cruise ship built for P&O Cruises and the UK market.|
|TBA||2022||Meyer Werft||2022||183,900||TBC||Due to be the joint-largest ever cruise ship built for P&O Cruises and the UK market.|
|Ship||Built||Builder||In service for
|Arcadia||1954||John Brown & Company||1977–1979||29,734||UK||Arcadia for P&O 1954–1977. Scrapped in 1979.|
|Uganda||1952||Barclay Curle||1977–1983||14,430||UK||Uganda for the British India Steam Navigation Company 1952–1972, P&O 1972–1977, the Royal Navy 1983–1985. Scrapped in 1992.|
|Oriana||1960||Vickers-Armstrong||1977–1986||41,910||UK||Oriana for P&O 1960–1977, floating hotel/museum 1986–2004. Scrapped in 2005.|
|Canberra||1961||Harland and Wolff||1977–1997||49,073||UK||Canberra for P&O 1961–1977. Scrapped in 1997.|
|Sea Princess/Victoria||1965||John Brown & Company||1979–1986 (as Sea Princess), 1995–2002 (as Victoria)||27,670||UK||Kungsholm for Swedish America Line 1966–1975, 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, The Scholar Ship 2007–2008, Mona Lisa for Lord Nelson Seereisen 2008, Peace Boat 2008–2009, Lord Nelson Seereisen 2009–2010. Scrapped in 2016.|
|Arcadia||1988||Chantiers de l'Atlantique||1997–2003||63,500||UK||Star 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.|
|Adonia||1998||Fincantieri||2003–2005||77,499||UK||Sea Princess for Princess Cruises 1998–2003, 2005–present.|
|Artemis||1984||Wärtsilä||2005–2011||44,348||Bermuda||Royal Princess for Princess Cruises 1984–2005, Artania for Phoenix Reisen 2011–present.|
|Adonia||2001||Chantiers de l'Atlantique||2011–2016, 2017–2018||30,277||Bermuda||R 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.|
|Oriana||1995||Meyer Werft||1995–2019||69,153||Bermuda||Piano Land for Astro Ocean 2019–present.|
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