1835 Arthur Anderson runs a dummy advertisement in the first edition of his Shetland Journal publication for ‘cruises’ around the Shetland Isles to the Faroes and Iceland.
1837 The Peninsular Steam Navigation company – owned by Arthur Anderson and Brodie McGhie Willcox – is awarded the contract to deliver the Royal Mail to the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal).
1840 Name is changed to the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O) when its Royal Mail contract is extended to the East.
1844 William Makepeace Thackeray is given a free cruise to Egypt, which involves travel on a succession of P&O ships. Although his review is mixed, to say the least, it brings P&O welcome publicity.
1904 P&O buys the liner Rome and turns it into its first full-time cruise ship, Vectis, and offers its first cruise holiday programme – a first class only cruise with shore excursions arranged by Thomas Cook.
1918 P&O acquires Orient Line.
1922 Orient Line resumes cruising post-World War I. Between the wars cruising becomes more popular, often using the newest ships in the fleet rather than the oldest.
1929 P&O launches Viceroy of India, its first turbo electric-powered ship and the first to have an indoor swimming pool.
1930’s Tourist class cruises begin in the early 1930s, followed by Pacific cruises and voyages to and from Australia.
1950’s The journey half way around the world to Australia catches the imagination of the UK public. This popularity is assisted by the Australian government who encourages UK immigrants – a one way ticket costs £10 – the ‘ten pound Pom’ is born. At £110 less than a tourist ticket, it’s a great fare, but travellers have to stay at least 2 years. Through the mid 70’s, more than 1 million Brits move down under.
1957 Two liners – Oriana and Canberra – are ordered for Orient Line and for P&O. By the time both are launched (1960/1961), P&O Cruises had created a new brand – P&O Orient Lines – for which these ships operate.
1974 P&O Cruises buys Princess Cruises, a US West Coast brand created in 1965 by Stanley MacDonald, becoming P&O Princess Cruises (both companies continued to trade under their individual brand names). Canberra returns from its liner-to-cruise ship conversion to begin sailing from Southampton. The same year
P&O Cruises abolishes passenger classes.
1982 Canberra – along with Cunard’s QE2 and the Uganda from P&O Cruises educational cruise brand British India – are requisitioned by the British Government for the Falklands War.
1988 Princess Cruises takes over Sitmar and P&O Cruises makes the provisional decision (confirmed with an order in 1991) to build a new cruise ship for cruise travel.
1995 P&O Cruises take delivery of their new ship Oriana, who sails alongside Canberra.
2000 P&O Cruises takes delivery of a second new ship, Aurora. The cruise business separates from P&O to operate independently as P&O Princess Cruises plc.
2002 Princess Cruises Ocean Princess and Sea Princess switch to P&O Cruises and are renamed Oceana and Adonia.
2003 P&O Princess Cruises merges with Carnival Corporation and plc.
2005 A third brand new ship, Arcadia, joins P&O Cruises and a third Princess ship, Royal Princess, switches and starts operating as Artemis for P&O Cruises. Adonia, which had previously been switched from Princess, rejoins its former fleet as Sea Princess.
2008 P&O Cruises first 100,000+ ton ship, Ventura, enters service.
2009 P&O Cruises announce sale of Artemis and their plans to take over the operation of Princess Cruises’ latest Royal Princess (originally built for Swan Hellenic as Minerva II) in 2011.
2010 The latest ship to built for P&O Cruises, Azura, joins the P&O Cruises fleet.
2011 P&O Cruises will bid a fond farewell to Artemis in April before welcoming their newest (and smallest) addition, Adonia, in May.