As P&O prepares to celebrate their 175th anniversary, we look back at the history of cruising and how P&O played such an integral part.

Emma Freeman looks back at the history of cruising including key milestones in P&O’s 175 year history

1756

1792

175 Years of P&O Arthur Anderson 175 Years of P&O
The British Government started operating monthly mail brigs from Falmouth to New York in 1756. These ships carried few non-governmental passengers and no cargo. Arthur Anderson was born in Lerwick in 1792. As a boy, he worked on the beach, preparing freshly-caught fish for market. The Crown attempted to press gang him but he was allowed to join the Royal Navy in 1808 and was discharged 10 years later, in 1818, after serving King and country in the Napoleonic wars.

1817

1822

Montezuma 175 Year anniversary of P&O Brodie McGhie Willcox 175 Year Anniversary of P&O
The first regular scheduled transatlantic shipping route was opened in 1817 by the Black Ball Line in New York, and 27 ships plied the route over the ensuing years, including the Montezuma (above). Arthur Anderson became a clerk in the London shipping firm of Brodie McGhie Willcox, where he worked his way up to become a partner in 1822. Together, he and Willcox developed the mail and cargo shipping business between Britain and the Iberian peninsula.

1835

1837

175 Years of P&O SS Chusan 175 Year anniversary of P&O
In 1835, Arthur Anderson launched the Shetland Journal newspaper, and inserted a dummy advertisement in the first edition for ‘cruises’ around the Shetland Isles to the Faroes and Iceland. Although the paper folded within a year, the idea of the pleasure cruise had been born. His birthplace, now a museum in Lerwick, the Shetland Islands, is pictured above. Anderson and Wilcox launched the Peninsular Steam Navigation Company, becoming the Peninsular & Oriental in 1837 as their routes expanded east in 1840 first to Egypt, then on to India in 1842, and Penang, Singapore and Hong Kong in 1845. Seven years later, the SS Chusan began sailing to Australia.

1880s

1904

Immigrants to US on cruise line 175 year anniversary of P&O P&O Vectis 175 Year of Anniversary P&O
The endorsement of sea voyages for curative purposes by the British Medical Journal in the 1880s further encouraged the public to take pleasure cruises as well as embarking on transatlantic liner travel, and around this time the mail ships also began to carry one-way travellers – voluntary immigrants to the US. In 1904 P&O bought the liner Rome and transformed it into its first full-time, dedicated cruise ship, renamed the Vectis, and offered its first cruise holiday programme. In 1929 the Viceroy of India was launched, P&O’s first turbo electric-powered ship with a swimming pool.

1950s

1974

175 year anniversary of P&O Panamax 175 Year anniversary of P&O
In the 1950s, the journey to Australia caught the imagination of the UK public. The Australian Government encouraged UK immigrants, offering a oneway ticket for £10, and the ‘Ten Pound Pom’ was born. At £110 less than a full-price ticket, it was a tempting fare. Over the next 20 years P&O carried a significant proportion of the more than 1 million Brits who made the move Down Under. In 1974, P&O abolished different classes of travel. Their desire to show their passengers as much of the world as possible has meant that the maximum size of their ships has been limited by the width of the Panama Canal. This is known as being a ‘Panamax’ ship, small enough to fit through the locks.

1995

2000

P&O Canberra P&O Aurora
Canberra, in the sunset of her career, but still a fine looking vessel. Picture credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker

 

Aurora entering the locks of the Panama Canal. Although larger than Oriana, her clever design means she can still fit through the locks by making her wider above the level of the Promenade Deck.Picture credit: P&O Cruises

2002

2010

175 Years of P&O Anniversary P&O 175 Year Anniversary
Oceana anchored in Palau, Sardinia, with passengers being tendered ashore.Picture credit: P&O Cruises

 

The Crystal Pool and distinctive funnel of Artemis, pictured in Piraeus, the port for Athens, 3rd May, 2010. This was Artemis‘s final season with P&O Cruises. Picture credit: Sharon Pool

2008

2010

P&O 175 year anniversary P&O Azura 175 Years of P&O
The glittering atrium on Oceana.Picture credit: Andrew Sassoli-Walker

 

 

A sister ship to Ventura, Azura joins the fleet, named by prima ballerina Darcey Bussell CBE. Azura had the most cosmopolitan range of features yet with an exclusive outdoor spa area, The Retreat, a wine bar by TV wine guru Olly Smith, and the first Indian fine dining restaurant in the fleet, Sindhu, by Atul Kochhar.Picture credit: P&O Cruises

2012 and beyond

P&O Cruise 175 Year Anniversary
New locks at both ends of the Panama Canal, which are due to open in 2014, will transform these parameters and allow much larger ships to traverse the isthmus and thus circumnavigate the globe, opening up the Pacific to ever larger cargo and container ships, as well as the some of the largest passenger-only vessels currently afloat.

In response to these new opportunities, P&O have commissioned their largest ever ship, currently still unnamed, which will be the biggest ever built specifically for the British market. The liner, costing £489m, is scheduled to enter service in March 2015, will be built by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, and will carry up to 4,372 passengers.

2012 marks the 175th anniversary of P&O cruises.In celebration of this milestone, all seven ships of the fleet will be in their home port of Southampton on the same day for the Grand Event reunion. Passengers and crew will enjoy deck parties as the streamers fly, the marching band plays and the ships process in convoy out into the Solent.

P&O is celebrating its 175th with a special commemorative book, Celebrating 175 Years of Heritage, from which many of these images are taken. For a chance to win this wonderful archive detailing P&O’s illustrious history, enter our exclusive competition.

 

 

 
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P&O 175 Year anniversary Competition

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