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

From its home port of Southampton, P&O Cruises flies the flag for British cruises, offering budget-friendly holidays tailored to British tastes. As well as “no-fly” cruises, it offers great value fly-cruise holidays from London and nine regional airports to the Caribbean, Northern Europe, North America and the Mediterranean.

The line’s seven ships have the British in mind. As well as carefully crafted cocktails, Elemis facials and body-sculpting boot camps, there are kettles (and Twinings tea) in every cabin, and passengers can always find a decent pint. Shore experiences and drinks can be pre-purchased in pounds, and passengers can spread the cost of their holiday with monthly payments at no extra cost when booking direct with the line.

Thanks to a new partnership with children’s cookbook author Annabel Karmel, revamped children’s menus are being rolled out across all eateries, and children’s tea is being offered as an early dinner option.

In addition to theater shows, live bands and comedy, the cruise line offers supervised 24-hour free kids clubs on its family-friendly ships. “Food Heroes” chef partnerships with Marco Pierre White, José Pizarro, Shivi Ramoutar and Kjartan Skjelde are popular, and wine critic Olly Smith curates an interesting selection of wines at The Glass House.

Rates include: service, dining in main restaurants and by the pool, kids clubs, babysitting and flights and transfers on fly-cruise holidays.

Nicole Scherzinger christened the shipping company's newest ship, the ArviaNicole Scherzinger christened the shipping company's newest ship, the Arvia

Nicole Scherzinger christened the shipping company’s newest ship, Arvia – Getty

1. Where is it sailing?

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 Caribbean. P&O Cruises offer world cruises and short cruises to Bruges, Amsterdam, Cherbourg, St Peter Port and Hamburg.

Fly-cruise winter 2024/5 holidays to the Caribbean are available on Arvia, from Barbados or Antigua and Britannia. Britannia will offer new Caribbean fly-cruise holidays in winter 2025/26 calling at Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Grand Turk.

Iona will continue to offer a programme of holidays in Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands, and Azura will visit Tangier for the first time on her Canary Islands fly-cruise itinerary. In December 2025, Aurora will sail an extended 14-night Northern Lights cruise, departing from and returning to Southampton.

In January 2025, Arcadia will sail roundtrip 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. Fares for shorter itineraries are available for booking.

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Cheers: The first gin still at sea is a collaboration between P&O Cruises and Salcombe Gin – Alun Callender for P&O Cruises

2. Who is it interesting for?

Five family-friendly ships, Arvia, Iona, Britannia, Azura and Ventura, have multiple swimming pools, cinema screens, kids’ clubs and babysitting services, all catering for families looking for short-haul fun and winter sun.

Artist Nicole Scherzinger is the creative force behind the contemporary late night shows in the SkyDome on board Iona and Arvia. Gary Barlow is Music Director of The 710 Club on these ships.

Aurora and Arcadia are adults only.

Arvia during the naming ceremonyArvia during the naming ceremony

Arvia during the christening ceremony in the Caribbean, where Nicole Scherzinger officially named the ship – Getty

3. The P&O Cruises fleet

There are seven ships in the P&O Cruises fleet and no two are the same. Do your research before you book.

Arvia (5,200 passengers)
The line’s newest ship offers 30 dining and drinking spots, with the ship’s SkyDome housing several of these, plus a pool and entertainment venues, under a retractable glass roof. Elsewhere, guests will find a spa, three more pools, a swim-up bar and a 175-foot-high ropes course. Guests can pay a premium for a VIP open-air deck with cabanas, drinks and snacks, and alfresco spa treatments.

Sails to: The Caribbean, the Mediterranean and Spain, Portugal and France

Iona (5,200 passengers)
Both Arvia and Iona are powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). Iona also has over 30 places to eat and drink, plus four swimming pools and 18 hot tubs. She has the first gin still produced at sea, in partnership with Devon’s Salcombe Gin, and live music in the 710 Club is provided by Gary Barlow.

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

Britannia (3,647 passengers)
Freshly renovated for its 10th anniversary in 2025, Britannia features contemporary spaces, a lavish spa and a premium open-deck Retreat and Salon. Eleven dining options 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.

Sails to: Caribbean, Mediterranean, Norwegian fjords

Watch Gary Barlow perform in an intimate lounge area on board a P&O cruiseWatch Gary Barlow perform in an intimate lounge area on board a P&O cruise

Watch Gary Barlow perform in an intimate lounge area on board a P&O cruise

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

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

Azura (3,100 passengers)
The family-friendly Azura is a good all-rounder 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 a cinema under the stars for all the family. The theatre hosts shows and talks and there is a small casino and spa. Nine restaurants include The Glass House and The Waterside. Try the Indian-inspired Sindhu and The Epicurean for specialities.

Sails to: The Mediterranean Sea and the Canary Islands

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From cinema to West End quality 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 is suited to those who prefer a more sedate cruise. The adults-only ship has a luxury spa and a retractable roof over her pool, and two-story Penthouse Suites for those seeking more luxurious cabins. The ship will enter dry dock for a refurbishment in April 2025.

Sails to: Spain, Portugal and France, the Mediterranean and the British Isles

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

Sails to: the Mediterranean, Northern Europe and a world cruise

With a relaxed atmosphere, Arcadia is the only ship in the fleet to feature a Marco Pierre White restaurantWith a relaxed atmosphere, Arcadia is the only ship in the fleet to feature a Marco Pierre White restaurant

Arcadia offers a relaxed atmosphere and is the only ship in the fleet to feature a Marco Pierre White restaurant

4. Loyalty Program

The P&O Cruises Peninsular Club has six levels. Nights on board earn points for future cruises. Benefits include priority booking and shipboard credit.

5. Accessibility on board

There are several types of accessible cabins, including fully wheelchair accessible cabins, partially accessible cabins and cabins that can accommodate a mobility scooter or a bed with a pull-out bed.

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

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