On 22nd August 1837, and following an increasing use of powered ships, the Government contract for the peninsular mail services was taken on by the Peninsular Steam Navigation Company. A second Government contract for a mail service to Egypt was subsequently secured in 1840 and the Peninsular Steam Navigation Company promptly merged with the Transatlantic Steam Navigation Company. The conclusion of this formative process created the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company that we all know today as P&O Cruises. The brand has had many subsidiaries, peaking at over 100, with several being taken over by other companies resulting in their P&O identities being lost.


Undoubtedly the leading operations carrying the P&O name nowadays are P&O Ferries (owned by DP World) and P&O Cruises (part of the Carnival Corporation since April 2003). In April 1995 P&O Cruises welcomed the first cruise ship built specifically for the U.K. market, the Meyer Werft created gem that is the Oriana. She was named by Her Majesty the Queen at Southampton’s Ocean Dock and marked a turning point in the U.K. cruise industry. The following two decades have seen enormous changes and growth in the cruise industry as a whole with P&O Cruises commissioning the newbuilds Aurora, Arcadia, Ventura and Azura 2000-2010. The fleet was also boosted by the Arcadia (ex-Star Princess/1997-2003), the 2003 “White Sisters” Adonia (2003-2005) and Oceana, the Artemis (2005- 2011/former Royal Princess/now Artania) and the Adonia (former Ocean Princess) from May 2011.

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