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The Ultimate P&O Cruises 2024 Guide

01 March 2024

Arvia

P&O Cruises; a beloved cruise line with a fleet that provides an unmatched cruise experience that embodies British traditions. Each of the ships boast distinct features, activities and itineraries that visit some of the world’s most extraordinary destinations, including the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and North America. 

Let us take you through the awards P&O Cruises have won, top highlights aboard the fleet, what’s included onboard, top tips for sailing with P&O Cruises and more!

Contents:

  1. Who are P&O Cruises?
  2. P&O Cruises Awards
  3. P&O Cruises' Vision Statement
  4. P&O Cruises' Fleet
  5. P&O Cruises Top Highlights
  6. What’s Included on a P&O Cruises' Cruise?
  7. What’s Extra on a P&O Cruises' Cruise?
  8. Dining Onboard P&O Cruises
  9. Suite Benefits on P&O Cruises
  10. P&O Cruises Updates
  11. Upcoming Events and Special Cruises on P&O Cruises
  12. Upcoming Tailor Made Getaways
  13. Guest Reviews
  14. P&O Cruises Top Tips
  15. FAQs

Who are P&O Cruises?

P&O Cruises is a family-friendly cruise line that's particularly popular with the British market due to the large variety of cruises that depart from the Southampton cruise port (P&O Cruises home port!).

With a history that dates back to 1837, P&O Cruises will make you feel right at home with no tipping, everything onboard in pound sterling and traditionally British features, including afternoon tea, roast dinners and tea making facilities available in cabins; something that us Brits undeniably love to have. 

P&O FleetThe P&O Fleet
The P&O Fleet

However, whilst it is primarily a traditional cruise line in many aspects, the newer ships within the fleet, including P&O Iona and P&O Arvia have introduced features that will also appeal to the younger generation; including the extraordinary SkyDome entertainment space, a four-screen cinema and a multi-sensory immersive submarine simulation game (available on P&O Arvia exclusively); showcasing how P&O Cruises is diversifying and offering cruises for cruise guests of all ages – whether you’re travelling with your partner, friends or your little ones.

P&O Cruises Awards

P&O Cruises have won several awards throughout the years, including most recently Cruise Critic’s Editors Picks - the Best New Ship of the Year for P&O Arvia in 2023, along with the Best Cruise Line for No-Fly Holidays and Best Cruise Line for Family Holidays in 2023 at the British Travel Awards. 

Alongside these, the cruise line also won Best Ocean Cruise Operator at the 2023 Travel Awards, along with Best Value for Money Cruise Line and Favourite Ocean Cruise Line at the 2023 Wave Awards. 

With so many things to see and do onboard, along with comfortable and stylish accommodation and more, it’s clear to see why P&O Cruises have won so many awards last year. And with exciting new itineraries, refurbishments across their fleet and other extraordinary updates to their cruise offerings to come in the near future, it’s clear that they will undoubtedly be awarded more in the next few years.

P&O Cruises' Vision Statement

Throughout the years, P&O Cruises has developed their vision statement, with top priorities including environmental protection, diversity and inclusion, compliance and the health and safety of their crew and their guests. 

Supporting their employees through wellbeing programmes, including mental and physical health initiatives, alongside striving for a empowering work environment when it comes to diversity, equality and inclusion, P&O Cruises’ key values strive to ensure that by the crew being listened to and respected, they in turn ensure that guests onboard P&O Cruises getaways are given the best possible service. 

When it comes to diversity, P&O Cruises has been recognised by the Human Right Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, scoring a perfect 100/100 score for its LGBTQ+ employment practices. This extends to their onboard offering. Not only are P&O Cruises sponsors of Southampton Pride, but P&O Cruises offers LGBTQ+ & Pride cruises, with the first setting sail in 2022 from Australia. There’s also LGBTQ+ organised meetups onboard. 

P&O Cruises' Sustainability Vision

P&O Cruises also has a sustainability agenda, designed to deliver positive change. Three key focus areas of this include: Investing in partnerships/programmes that support conservation and biodiversity, sustainable tourism and helping to protect the environment by investing in low-carbon/zero-carbon emission technologies, installing advanced air quality systems, partnering with organisations to support decarbonisation efforts & working with supply chain partners to reduce waste. 

P&O Cruises' Fleet

Sailing to over 70 destinations throughout the world, including the Norwegian Fjords, Northern Europe and South America, it currently has 7 extraordinary ships sitting within its fleet with the newest ship (P&O Cruises’ Arvia) setting sail in 2022.

We’ll guide you through each of the ships, including the top highlights of each, who they are suited to and key details to help you decide which P&O Cruises ship is best for you!

Excel Class: P&O Arvia & P&O Iona

Best For: Families

P&O Cruises’ newest class, Excel Class, includes P&O Arvia and P&O Iona. there are several extraordinary features onboard these modern and opulent ships, including Conservatory Mini Suites that offer breathtaking sea views and spacious accommodation, the multifunctional entertainment space - the SkyDome, that boasts a retractable roof that’s perfect for warmer climates, and new restaurants such as the mouth-watering Keel & Cow gastropub.

P&O Arvia (2022)

First up is P&O Cruises’ newest ship, P&O Arvia, which set sail in 2022. Best for families due to the huge selection of family-friendly activities available, including 4 pools, the Altitude SkyWalk, the Ocean Studios four-screen cinema and the Mission Control submarine escape room - not to mention the kids clubs (which are included in your fare), whether you’ve got little ones or teens, they’ll love all that P&O Arvia has to offer. 

P&O Arvia also introduced the first plant-based/vegetarian/pescatarian restaurant - Green & Co to the fleet. 

P&O Iona (2021)

The second-newest member to the fleet is the spacious and luxurious P&O Iona. When it launched in 2021, it was the largest cruise ship to be introduced to the British market, introducing new amenities onboard, including an incredible gin distillery, new entertainment in the 710 Club, the Limelight Club (offering not only decadent cuisine buy unforgettable entertainment at night) and 30 bars and restaurants to take advantage of. 

Sailing from Southampton, Iona is a fantastic choice for UK families looking for a hassle-free start to their cruise. 

Royal Class - P&O Britannia (2015) (refurbished - 2019) 

Best For: Budget-friendly getaways

P&O Britannia
P&O Britannia

Setting sail in 2015 and refurbished in 2019, P&O Britannia is a great choice for cruisers looking for a relaxed getaway, whether you’re travelling solo, with your partner or with your family. As you walk through the Starburst Atrium, you’ll be in awe at the variety of shops, restaurants and comfortable seating on offer; with plenty of places to unwind. 

Featuring a 94-metre union jack on the front of the ship, the first culinary school at sea (The Cookery Club) and a tranquil spa with a hydrotherapy suite to die for, there won’t be a dull moment onboard. 

Grand Class - P&O Azura & P&O Ventura

Best For: Dazzling Entertainment

P&O Azura (2009)  (refurbished - 2020)

P&O Azura
P&O Azura

The third class in P&O Cruises’ fleet is the Grand Class, featuring P&O Azura and P&O Ventura. The former, P&O Azura, which set sail in 2009, but was recently refurbished in 2020 is beloved for the dazzling entertainment onboard, including the cabaret performances, comedy shows, theatre performances and more held within the 800 set Playhouse Theatre. 

Alternatively, for live music performances, piano recitals and dancing, the exotic Malabar is a popular option, inspired by modern hotels located on Marine Drive in Mumbai. Another key highlight onboard P&O Azura is the numerous dining options and bars onboard.

Foodies will love the exquisite dishes served at the Epicurean, and wine lovers are spoilt for choice at the Glass House. P&O Azura is one of the smallest ships in P&O Cruises’ fleet, with a guest capacity of just over 3,000 and a gross tonnage of just over 110,000.

P&O Ventura (2007) (refurbished - 2018)

P&O Ventura

Not only is P&O Ventura renowned for its magical entertainment offerings in the lavish two-tier Arena Theatre (West End-Style shows, talks and films), alongside the Havana Show Lounge (for karaoke, cabaret performances and live music), but for its sumptuous Oasis Spa & Salon, with exclusive therapies, a relaxation lounge thermal suite and more.

Its 2018 refurbishment saw many changes, including updates to The Beach House and Waterside (new flooring and furniture), along with over £1 million spent upgrading the Theatre and more. 

P&O Arcadia & P&O Aurora - Best For: Adults-Only 

If you’re looking for an adults-only getaway, look no further than P&O Arcadia and P&O Aurora. These adults-only ships offer extravagance, chic décor and a handful of restaurants that are bound to please. 

P&O Arcadia (2005)  (refurbished - 2017) : Vista Class

P&O Arcadia
P&O Arcadia

Launched in 2005, this Vista Class ship has a variety of facilities and an intimate and relaxed atmosphere. Whilst P&O Arcadia sails to the Mediterranean, Northern Europe & Scandinavia, what stands this ship out from the crowd, is the incredible World Cruises it offers. Originally ordered by Holland America Line in 2000, before being allocated to Cunard and finally P&O Cruises, the boutique atrium and size of the ship will appeal to many not seeking a megaship. 

Top highlights onboard P&O Arcadia include the three-tier Palladium Theatre (showcasing a range of West End-style performances), the Screening Room (Arcadia’s 30 seat cinema) and Anderson’s Bar, where you can indulge in a quintessentially British gin and tonic - using P&O Cruises’ gin brand, Marabelle Gin. And for those G+T lovers, the fun doesn’t end there. All P&O Arcadia cruises also offer gin tasting masterclasses, where you can learn about the gin distillation process and sample this tantalising beverage!

P&O Aurora (2000)  (refurbished - 2019) (no class)

P&O Aurora
P&O Aurora

And finally, we have the first ship introduced into P&O Cruises fleet, Aurora. As aforementioned, P&O Aurora is an adults-only ship and the smallest ship. With a classic and traditional style (including a galleried style atrium, featuring a spectacular 35-foot sculpture designed by artist John Mills), this opulent ship not only sails to Spain, Portugal, France and the Mediterranean, but the British Isles - making it a great option for those wanting a more relaxed, laid-back getaway without venturing too far from home. 

However, whilst P&O Aurora is traditional in its décor, when it comes to entertainment, you won’t be disappointed. Brimming with choices, from Carmen’s show lounge for fun quiz shows and tribute acts, to the Playhouse Cinema and Curzon Theatre, you’ll be kept occupied throughout the night and day. 

P&O Cruises Top Highlights

P&O Cruises is a fantastic option, whether you’re looking to sail from Southampton or destinations further afield, such as the Caribbean. Its combination of family-friendly and adults-only ships gives flexibility, whether you want to travel with family, solo or on a romantic getaway. With activities for all ages, from the Mission Control Escape Room for kids, to the adults-only spa, no matter what type of cruise you’re looking for, P&O Cruises has the ultimate getaway for you. 

P&O Arvia Oasis Spa - Thermal Suite
P&O Arvia Oasis Spa - Thermal Suite

So what stands P&O Cruises out from the crowd? Well, not only is tipping not required, but P&O Cruises offers full days ashore - giving you plenty of time to explore and immerse yourself into the local culture; something that many other cruise lines don’t offer. Making your cruise experience feel more relaxed, you can wake up each day of your getaway knowing that you won’t have to worry about rushing back onboard. 

Other highlights you can take advantage of when sailing with P&O Cruises include a partnership with Gary Barlow, who is the music director of the 710 Club on P&O Iona and P&O Arvia. The club, which is adults-only, showcases a huge range of performances that have been specifically curated to appeal to British guests who love their music. 

P&O Cruises also works with some of the best food and drink experts, in their Food Heroes programme. From the Michelin-starred chef Marco Pierre White to Olly Smith, a renowned wine expert. Not only is their influence reflected across P&O Cruises’ ship restaurants, but there are also masterclasses on select cruises offered by a range of experts in the food/drink industry!

What’s Included on a P&O Cruises' Cruise?

There’s a wide range of things that come included as part of your P&O Cruises fare. When you opt for a P&O Cruises getaway, not only will you benefit from stylish accommodation, but gratuities included, essential drinks (including glasses of water, tea, coffee, cordial, milk, fruit juices (at breakfast)) and self-service laundrettes that you can use throughout your cruise. 

Headliner's Theatre on P&O Iona
Headliner's Theatre on P&O Iona

P&O Cruises also includes a range of sports activities in your cruise fare. These include mini golf, deck quoits and shuffleboard, darts, table tennis, dance classes, card and bridge classes. 

Some of the other things you can take advantage of include access to the fitness centre, theatre shows in the variety of theatres throughout the fleet, live music throughout the ship, films - in the in-room TVs and in the cinemas onboard, seminars with guest speakers and more.

P&O Cruises also includes a range of sports activities in your cruise fare. These include mini golf, deck quoits and shuffleboard, darts, table tennis, dance classes, card and bridge classes. 

What’s Extra on a P&O Cruises' Cruise?

Whilst there are a variety of inclusions on a P&O Cruise, there are other amenities and extras that you will have to pay a little more for. These include drinks packages (there are our different drinks packages to choose from: The Refresh Package, The Alcohol-Free Package, The Classic Drinks Package & The Deluxe Drinks Package), spa treatments, shore excursions, Wi-Fi, fitness classes, and hair & beauty treatments.

P&O Arvia Altitude Minigolf
P&O Arvia Altitude Minigolf

Other amenities and activities that aren’t included in your fare include the Mission Control Escape Room (P&O Arvia), Altitude Skywalk, casino, art gallery purchases, shows in The Limelight Lounge, 1:1 dance lessons, photo shoots, cooking classes in the Cookery Club and laundry services, such as pressing and ironing clothing. 

Dining Onboard P&O Cruises

When it comes to dining, P&O Cruises has so much to offer, from more casual options, including buffets and light bites, to formal speciality restaurants. With a mixture of cuisine available throughout their fleet, from classic British food in the Freedom & Club Dining Restaurants to exotic flavours in the popular Indian speciality restaurant, Sindhu. 

Sindhu
Sindhu

There are a range of included restaurants throughout the fleet, including the buffets (e.g the Horizon Restaurant and The Quays) serving a range of international cuisine), to light bites at the Poolside Grill and Poolside Pizzeria, 6th Street Diner (serving American cuisine, available on P&O Arvia), Afternoon tea and a Celebration Night Dinner (a 5 course, menu created by Marco Pierre White available on select cruises).

However, if you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply fancy a change to the included offerings, there are also speciality restaurants that cost a little extra. With dishes varying in price from £2 (at Ripples) to mains from £8 (at restaurants such as The Glass House), speciality restaurants on P&O Cruises are more affordable than on other cruise lines. 

Speciality restaurants include modern and decadent options, including the likes of The Olive Grove (for delicious Italian dishes), the Keel & Cow (for mouth-watering steaks and burgers) and the Epicurean (for signature, scrumptious British cuisine). 

Other speciality dining onboard P&O Cruises include:

Suite Benefits on P&O Cruises

When opting for a suite onboard P&O Cruises, there’s a wide range of perks and benefits that you can unlock. These include free room service, a welcome lunch, complimentary in-room dressing gown and slippers, Priority check-in & boarding (from Southampton), White Company toiletries, Champagne & chocolates on arrival, canapes on embarkation & celebration nights, a fruit basket and more. 

Welcome Champagne
Welcome Champagne

Full suites (not mini suites or conservatory suites) also have butler service, a full size whirlpool bath (on certain ships) and main dining restaurant food available in their suites. 

P&O Cruises Updates

P&O Cruises are constantly striving to deliver a better cruise experience for their guests. Throughout 2023, they made two standout updates and improvements to their offerings. Firstly, they announced that throughout their fleet, they were introducing Starlink (high speed internet) to the public spaces onboard. Secondly, they updated their drinks packages. 

Soft drinks
Soft drinks

They now offer four new drinks packages, all for a fixed price per person, per day. These range from alcohol-free (soft drinks, speciality teas), to refresh (soft drinks), classic (select wines, spirits and cocktails) and deluxe (all of the other drinks included plus premium spirits, wines and cocktails). Make sure to book your drinks packages in advance for cheaper rates!

Find out more detail about P&O Cruises' drinks package on our blog post - An Essential P&O Cruises’ Drinks Package Guide For 2024.

Future Updates

They also announced some upcoming updates in the near future. Firstly, P&O Cruises announced a multi-million pound investment in both P&O Arcadia and P&O Aurora. These chances include new chairs in cabins, new furniture on the open decks and new balcony furniture. The updates to Arcadia will take place in 2024, and Aurora’s will take place in 2025. Secondly, new winter 2025/2026 itineraries have been introduced, with 12 new ports of call! These will include the likes of Narvik, Jamaica and Grand Turk.

Upcoming Events and Special Cruises on P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises offers a wonderful selection of themed cruises. From their annual Christmas & New Year Cruises, to their Food Heroes sailings that are available on Arvia and Iona, there’s a themed cruise for all tastes and budgets available. During P&O Cruises’ Christmas season cruises, guests can look forward to a huge range of festive activities, including pantomimes, Christmas films, a carol service and a chance to meet Santa in his grotto; something that little ones are bound to enjoy!

Steak dinner

During the Food Heroes sailings, guests can take part in masterclasses, hosted dinners, wine tastings and more; perfect for any wine lover or food enthusiast!

There are also three upcoming Wellbeing & Lifestyle cruises in 2024. Starting in January, there are three itineraries to choose from, featuring three wellness/beauty experts - Cherry Healey, Kat Farmer and Hannah Martin. If you opt for one of these cruises, you can look forward to different lectures, makeup and health masterclasses and more!

Top Themed nights onboard 

On selected sailings there are also themed nights onboard, including a New Year’s Eve party, a white party, a Gatsby-themed party (P&O Australia sailings and a Back to School party (on cruises 5 nights and longer).

Upcoming Tailor Made Getaways

Guest Reviews

P&O Cruises Top Tips

Now, let us guide you through some top tips that you can use on your P&O Cruises holiday, whether you’re a P&O Cruises’ novice or you’ve sailed with the cruise line in the past. 

What Are P&O Cruises’ Price Types?

When booking a P&O Cruises getaway, you might notice that there are three types of fares available, these include a Select Price fare, an Early Saver fare and a Saver fare. Whilst all of the fares include dining in the main restaurants (including buffet and pool-side restaurants), entertainment, access to the swimming pools and of course, accommodation, there are some differences between the three which are important to take note of. 

Select Price* 

With this option, you’ll have the most choice and flexibility. You’ll be able to not only choose the location of your cabin (as well as having first priority when it comes to upgrades), but you’ll have flexibility to change your booking, shuttle buses within the port to transport you into the main area of your destination, a choice of car parking in Southampton/a return coach travel in Southampton or onboard spending money, first priority when it comes to the dining style onboard (on ships within the fleet that offer Freedom and Club dining) and first priority in terms of table size and seating time for Club dining.

Early Saver 

The second option available is an Early Saver fare. Still a great option available, with this type of fare, you’ll have flexibility when it comes to dining time, table size and desired dining style in the main dining restaurant and possible upgrades (where available, after those with non saver bookings). With an Early Saver, your cabin number will be assigned to you. 

Saver

Perfect for those looking to book a last minute P&O Cruises getaway, Saver is only available at selected times on selected cruises and selected cabin grades (which will be assigned to you ahead of time). When you opt for this fare, your dining will be allocated upon boarding and there will be a 100% cancellation fee. The full balance will also need to be paid at the time of booking. 

Book the Limelight Club in Advance (Iona/Arvia)

If you’re looking for a fun night out, then the Limelight Club on Iona and Arvia is a must. Available at an additional cost, when you book the Limelight Club not only can you indulge in a delicious three-course, but an evening performance from a talented celebrity musician/performer. An adults-only experience, throughout the years there have been numerous well-known performers making an appearance in the club, including Gareth Gates, Lee Mead and Matt Cardle! 

However, it books up very quickly. So make sure you book early to avoid disappointment!

Utilise My Holiday

Ahead of your cruise and whilst on your cruise, make sure to check out My Holiday - a web app, you can view an itemised tally of everything you’ve spent onboard, along with an itinerary of what’s to come, dining reservations, theatre reservations and shore excursions. 

Book Your Shore Excursions Ahead of Time

With P&O Cruises, you can book your shore excursions up to 1 year in advance, giving you plenty of time to choose the best ones for your preferences. But with all cruise lines, these book up quickly, so it’s worth planning and booking these as soon as possible!

Book Your Theatre Shows

On P&O Cruises, you will have to book a seat in the theatre/other entertainment venues (such as the 710 Club) so make sure you do this ahead of time if you want to see any of the live performances. 

FAQs

What is the Dress Code on P&O Cruises?

There are two dress codes onboard P&O Cruises. These are the day dress code and the evening dress code. 

During the day, you can dress according to the weather - e.g t-shirts, sundresses, shorts etc. (or jumpers, trousers and long shirts for colder climates) however in the lounges, restaurants, bars and receptions, it is requested that no pool wear should be worn, and shoes should be worn. 

In the evening there are two types of dress codes. Evening casual and Black Tie. On evening casual nights, the dress code consists of dresses, dark trousers, shirts and long skirts. However, on black tie night, suits, cocktail dresses and tuxes are requested. 

It is important to stick to these dress codes, as venues may turn you away if you aren't following them! 

What are the Biggest P&O Cruises’ Ships?

Which is the Smallest P&O Cruises’ Ship?

Are Kids Clubs Included on P&O Cruises?

One big benefit of P&O Cruises is that all kids clubs are included. Split into four different clubs, catering for little ones aged 6 months to 17 year olds there’s something for everyone! With age-suitable activities and trained adults on hand, they will have a blast whilst on their P&O Cruises getaway. 

For 6 months - 2 years there’s the Nursery, alongside a Night Nursery. For 2-4 year olds, there’s Splashers, for 5-8 year olds there’s the Surfers Club, for 9-12 year olds there is the Scubas Club and for 13-17 year olds there is the H2O Children’s Club/The Scene. 

Which P&O ships are Child Friendly?

All of the P&O Cruises fleet, except for P&O Aurora and P&O Arcadia which are adults-only. 

Book Your P&O Cruises' Escape with Iglu Cruise

So, there you have it! A quick guide to P&O Cruises, from the top highlights, to what’s included, top itineraries and more. But no matter what P&O Cruises sailing you opt for, you’re guaranteed a fantastic time filled with plenty of happy memories that will last for years to come. Book your P&O Cruises getaway with us today and enjoy a cruise holiday of a lifetime. 

* There are some exclusions/exemptions when it comes to the different price types. This includes: 

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