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Saturday, 10 September 2011

What are P&O like?

A while back I wrote a post titled What are MSC Like? You can read it by clicking the words in bold. It was an introduction for first time cruisers as to what they could expect from an MSC cruise. One of my regular readers, whom I was talking to the other day, suggested it might be handy if I started a series of posts just introducing the other cruise lines to help first time cruisers make up their mind about the suitability of different cruises and what they offer. I've decided to kick the series of with the cruise line P&O.

The reason I've started with P&O is that they're the best known of 'British' brands.
It's important to remember however that there's big difference between P&O cruise lines and P&O ferries. The cruise ships, for obvious reasons are much bigger with much more facilities onboard and todays post is obviously going to be about P&O cruises.
P&O have seven ships in their fleet and they are the......

P&O Adonia - (1150 passengers) and adult only
P&O Arcadia - (2120 passengers) and adult only
P&O Aurora - (1950 passengers) - I've actually sailed on this ship. Click here for a review.
P&O Azura - (3574 passengers) and perfect for families
P&O Oceana - (2272 passengers)
P&O Oriana - (1928 passengers)
P&O Ventura - (3574 passengers), sister ship to the Azura and also perfect for families.

As you can see from the range of ships P&O cruise lines have something to suit everyone, adult only cruise ships, child friendly cruise ships, small intimate cruise ships, big ships with loads to do and several that combine the best of all the above.
One of the big benefits with P&O is that almost all of their sailings are out of Southampton making it easy for us Brits to cruise with them without having to mess around with flights. No risk of ash clouds or BA strikes disrupting your holiday! That being said, come the winter months they do sail the Azura and Ventura down to the Caribbean and offer fly cruises to them with the option of quite a few regional airports.
Another big selling point for P&O is their drinks prices whilst your onboard. I know a lot of cruisers can feel a bit ripped off when they get on an American cruise ship but P&O, being English tend to base their drink prices on English pub prices and also don't add a 15% tip to every drink for the bar man, making your overall bar bill much more reasonable. That then leads us on to the next big selling point of P&O - no tipping.
As I've said, P&O, being an English cruise line, won't impose automatic or compulsory gratuities, or tipping, like other American or European cruise lines will. You can tip if you want, but it won't be asked for or expected.

So the pros of P&O..........
English atmosphere onboard
Cheap bar bills
No tipping
Lots of sailings from Southampton
Something for everyone on a wide range of ships.
A wide range of choice for annual world cruises every January.
Good,cheap last minute deals

And the cons.......
Because of their wide appeal some cruisers can find them a bit 'mass market'
Limited itineraries as they do only tend to sail from Southampton.
There ships don't have the 'bells and whistles' that the likes of Royal Caribbean do.
Some people get irritated booking early with P&O as they do drop the price of their cruises at the last minute so often. It can leave those who booked early feeling ripped off.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever travelled with P&O? Do you think I've been fair or can you think of something I may have missed? Share your experiences of P&O as a cruise brand with others here.

Happy cruising.

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