Cruise deals and holidays are often thought of as a fairly modern concept. However, they were established over 100 years ago, by one of the most popular cruise companies operating today – P&O.
Cruises were first advertised as such by the Peninsular & Oriental line in1904, with 150 passengers taking “cruise tours” of the Mediterranean on the 6,000 tonne Vectis. Today, similar cruise holidays are offered on the 115,000 tonne Ventura!
P&O cruise holidays – the early days
The oldest cruise company in the world, P&O cruises can trace their origins back to 1822, and the formation of the Peninsular Steam Navigation Company (later renamed Peninsular and Oriental). By by1844, P&O’s passenger services included round tours of the Mediterranean and Egypt. Operated from Southampton, these were the precursor of today’s modern cruise holidays .
P&O’s fleet has always been at the cutting-edge of shipbuilding, the 1889 SS Valetta being the first ship equipped with electric lighting. By 1929 P&O offered 15 cruises on a fleet of powerful luxury liners – including the world’s first turbo-electric ship, the Viceroy of India. Sadly she, along with a number of other P&O ships, perished in WWII. However, these were replaced with even faster and larger ships; the luxurious Canberra and Oriana cutting the run time to Australia down from five weeks to three in the mid-1950s.
P&O cruises today.
In the 1960s and 1970s, passenger air travel made transatlantic crossings increasingly unfashionable. Many shipping companies followed P&O’s lead – often, with little success. But their failure at running cruise holidays was P&O’s gain, leading to events like the acquisition of Princess Cruises in 1974.
In 1977, the remodelling of the P&O passenger division created P&O cruises and P&O cruises Australia. In 2000, the independent company of P&O Princess Cruises PLC was formed, merging with Carnival PLC in 2003.
To celebrate 175 years of history, P&O cruises will be holding a “Grand Event” in which their entire fleet will leave Southampton simultaneously on July 3rd 2012. These cruise holidays promise to be the most iconic P&O cruises ever.
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