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There have been some comments in various threads recently on one of the cruise forums that I visit on the broad subject of ‘why cruise with P&O?’. I’m a P&O customer so I thought I’d respond here in the blog.


I ought to preface my comments by acknowledging that I am still a relatively new cruiser – it’s only just over 4 years since we did our first one (Sinfonia, May 2005). We’ve cruised with P&O twice – a short cruise on Oriana and a longer one on Ventura – and the two for next year will also be on P&O; again, a longer one (Ventura) and a short one (Arcadia). Those will be our ninth and tenth cruises, with four different lines.


Here are the things that attract me to P&O:

a) It’s very British. Having cruised a few times with non-UK lines I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed having ‘ordinary’ food to eat. Not so much the dinners, more what was available at breakfast or lunch. I’m not a fan of the ‘Full English’ at breakfast time but to have it available if i wanted it was good. And curries! – we never got those on Celebrity or MSC.


b) the itineraries. I accept that this might change after I’ve done a few cruises with them, especially now that (from 2010) they seem to be moving more to a series of set itineraries for a ship, e.g. the 14 night itineraries for Ventura and Oceana in 2010. But at the moment I’m finding them attractive.


c) the ships, and the range of ships. At the moment P&O have six different ships. (I know that next year they will have two the same out of seven.) And I also like the way that they are trying to use them differently – for example, the difference they are trying to make between Ventura and Azura is fascinating. I like the way they honestly & unashamedly have ‘child free’ ships. Some other lines seem to operate ‘child discouragement’ policies without actually saying “we don’t want kids”. Little touches like the self-service launderettes.


d) the formality. We enjoy the four formal nights in a 14-night cruise.


e) the prices overall – I’m cruising in a good balcony cabin next year for just about £100 per person per night, once I take into account a bit of OBC.


f) the onboard pricing policy. P&O is *much* cheaper than the american lines – I’m definitely not looking forward to the prices on Solstice this coming September. Drinks on Solstice seem to start at around 7$ and head skywards from there; plus of course all those prices are then ‘+15%’. In the case of P&O, the price you see is the price you pay, and it’s lower to begin with. Actually, I’m wrong – the price I see isn’t the price I pay. As a basic-level Portunus club member I get 5% discount! There’s also the absence of the nickel-&-diming that goes on with the american lines. For example, 10$ for the return shuttle at Mykonos, from Tourlas port into Mykonos town – it’s not much more than a mile! P&O’s shuttles are free, where they’re required.


g) not having to fly. We’re beginning to enjoy this more and more. I know it’s not a P&O-specific benefit, but they are the biggest line sailing ex-UK.


So what are the downsides?

a) it’s very British! Sometimes too much so. I’m not a fan of flag-waving, so the ‘Great British SailAways’ leave me pretty cold. And sometimes the company you meet can get a little “glass half -empty, moan whinge”. Probably the thing we enjoy most about Celebrity is meeting americans, in fact – they’re unfailingly positive (and polite).


b) the service, while good enough, isn’t as ‘in your face’ as on the US lines. I’d prefer to see a few more smiles.


c) the cost. On some of the ships (e.g. Azura and perhaps Arcadia) P&O seem to want a lot of money – about £140 a day for a balcony cabin in a lot of the 2010 brochure. That’s a lot – too much for me. I’ve posted about this before now – have a look here for an earlier post about pricing on Azura and here for another one on the general pricing for P&O cruises in 2010.

One Response to “My reasons for cruising with P&O”

  1. Malcolm says:

    Fair comments Tom. Personally I never used to see too many ‘good deals’ from P&O, but that does seem to be changing since the introduction of ‘Ventura’. More cabins to fill, I suppose. I think you would really like Cunard (especially the breathtaking QM2) if you like a little formality (but not as formal as you think) and an onboard Anglo-American atmosphere.

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