P&O Cruises Celebrates 180 Years of Adventures


P&O Cruises celebrates its 180th birthday in 2017. With commercial cruises operating as far back as the early 19th century, it’s the oldest cruise line in the world.

It’s fair to say that P&O has come a long way from the original ‘Peninsular Steam Navigation Company’. The popular line now offers an impressive range of exotic cruises to a variety of destinations. So what does their journey look like?

Setting sail

Beginning as mail delivery company between England and the Iberian Peninsula and Egypt, their first passenger service was introduced in 1844. The likes of Gibraltar and Malta were the destinations for these sea tours, which were something of a new idea and the first of their kind.

Round trips were the next phenomenon, with ships subsequently undergoing a huge makeover, taking a step towards the stunning vessels we see today. In fact, it was a P&O ship, the SS Valetta, that was the first to include electric lighting in 1889.


The breakthrough Vectis ship in 1904 carried 150 passengers. Despite damaging losses from two world wars, P&O managed to grow further in the 20th century, purchasing Orient Navigation and Princess Cruises.

P&O ships became more like the modern models under the influence of aviation. A rise in commercial flights forced ships to reduce their travel time from the 1950s onward. However, it wasn’t until 1995 that the current fastest ship, Oriana, was built.

Recent additions

The P&O we know and love today has a total fleet of seven ships. The most recent addition, Britannia, is the epitome of luxury cruising. Completed in 2015, the ship has 15 passenger decks, with a capacity of 4,324 passengers as well as 1,398 crew members.

On-board P&O's Britannia ship

The amazing cruise liner features 13 eateries, matched by its choice of 13 bars. It’s the epitome of modern, luxury cruising, and a powerful sign of P&O Cruises’ ambition for continued growth.

Luxury cruising

P&O Cruises continue to offer the quintessential cruise experience with a variety of destinations. Whether it’s a short 2-night West Europe Mini Cruise, or a 14-night Caribbean Transatlantic tour, P&O offer nautical luxury at its finest.

If you would like to explore the ocean for the first time, or simply want to try the finest cruises on offer from the world’s longest serving cruise line, book your indulgent trip with P&O and Cruise1st today. For more information, call our UK cruise experts on 0808 2746 777, or use our online search tool to find your perfect cruise.

Image Credits: P&O Cruises


About Author

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Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.

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