Best & Worst P&O Cruises Ships (Ranked By Reviews)



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P&O Cruises is the biggest cruise line aimed specifically at the UK cruise market.

With seven ships, including two that are for adults only, there’s plenty of choice, whether you want a smaller ship, or one of the newer, mega-ships.

And that’s the thing – bigger and newer don’t always mean better, and a lot of people prefer the older ships in the fleet for a quieter cruise, especially those who’ve been cruising with P&O for several years.

I love the new ships though – I’ve sailed on Arvia and Iona multiple times and loved my time on them.

But to find out which were the best, I decided to rank all of the P&O Cruises ships in order based on real customer reviews. I’ll explain what makes them different, why they’re popular, and what people don’t like as well.

I’ll be honest – the results surprised me a little. See for yourself.

How I Gathered the Data

To rank the P&O ships, I’ve collated the review data from three of the biggest independent review websites in the world – Cruise Critic, Cruiseline.com, and TripAdvisor.

I’ve cruised on most of the P&O ships myself, but not all of them (yet). And even if I had, if I just ranked them based on my own opinion, it wouldn’t be fair and it wouldn’t be as interesting. So my personal opinions doesn’t influence this list in any way.

What Is the Best P&O Cruises Ship?

According to average customer reviews, the best P&O Cruises ship is Aurora, which is one of two adult-only ships in the fleet. She is also the oldest ship in the fleet, first launching in 2000, and she is the smallest at less than half the size of Iona and Arvia.

1. Aurora

P&O Aurora

As the smallest ship in the P&O Cruises fleet, Aurora has a very relaxed and intimate feel onboard – even with less space, there aren’t big crowds in the public areas, and the fact that the ship is adults-only means that it never feels loud or hectic onboard.

According to guests, the itineraries offered on the ship are great and the crew are typically given very positive feedback, offering great standards of service for a cruise at this price point.

But the age of the ship is definitely a negative. She was built in 2000 and last refurbished in 2019.

Many of the critical reviews focus on how the ship is in need of further refurbishment as there are parts that are looking worn or that are outright in need of repair.

The good news though, is that Aurora will have a multi-million pound refit in April 2025 with a whole lot of new furniture in cabins, on balconies and on the open decks.

2. Azura

P&O Cruises Azura

Azura is a comfortable and popular mid-sized ship with something for everyone. While she is not packed with incredible attractions, she has four different pools where guests can relax, plenty of sports facilities, a fun kids club and a relaxing adults-only spa terrace for those quieter moments.

Most of the reviews describe a warm and welcoming ship that is well maintained, and a crew that is positive, proactive and caring about their guests.

The biggest criticisms of Azura are centered on the entertainment. As a ship that aims to appeal to all ages, it doesn’t seem to have enough excitement in the evening shows when compared to the offerings from other cruise lines, and because Azura is a smaller ship it doesn’t have enough alternative options.

3. Britannia

P&O Britannia

When she launched in 2015, Britannia became the flagship of the cruise line for the next six years. As a ship that was 25% larger than the previous biggest in the fleet, she offered guests an exciting experience with a wide variety of entertainment and places to dine and unwind.

The size of the ship seems popular with guests, with positive feedback focusing on how the ship never feels overcrowded and instead has a great atmosphere onboard, and that there’s plenty of variety when it comes to places to eat and drink.

The negative reviews seem to focus on the variety of food choices within some of the restaurants, specifically in the buffet and main dining room, but there are just as many positive reviews praising the food choices too, so it seems to be something which splits opinion.

4. Ventura

P&O Ventura

Ventura is a mid-sized ship that’s almost identical in size and style to Azura. So again, she offers a good balance for adults and for families, with plenty of relaxing spaces and some fun activities organised throughout the day, although don’t expect any big gimmicky attractions onboard.

Most guests love the quality of the overall experience, especially when they take into account the price they paid. The crew are highly rated, and guests feel like they get a great value cruise with the quality of food and entertainment, which isn’t incredible but is very good.

A lot of the negative reviews come from long-time P&O guests who feel that the whole P&O experience isn’t quite as exceptional as it once was, with complaints mentioning things like guests ignoring dress codes and cabins being tired and in need of an update.

5. Iona

P&O Cruises Iona

Iona is one of the largest ships in the P&O fleet, and the largest to regularly sail from the UK. She has a wealth of great features onboard for all ages, including a fun-packed kids’ club, a wide variety of entertainment, a gin distillery and a host of restaurants.

A lot of guests love the ship, especially the range of food options and the quality of the entertainment. The ship is also beautiful and guests are quick to point that out – as one of the newer ships, she still impresses with her decor and style.

Some guests feel that the rooms are a bit small, and that the ship lacks atmosphere due to her size, but these are guests who are comparing Iona to other ships they’ve sailed on that are smaller and have more of an intimate feel.

There are also several references to “Butlins at sea” in terms of the busier nature of the ship, and the fact that Iona’s affordable fares attract a lot of families, although I did appreciate one positive review that placed Iona as somewhere between “Butlins and Cunard”.

6. Arcadia

P&O Cruises Arcadia

Arcadia is the second adults-only cruise ship in the P&O fleet, launching five years after her sister ship Aurora. Arcadia is the bigger ship, though she’s still much smaller than the largest ships in the fleet, offering a good choice of restaurants and bars and two pools for guests to unwind.

The biggest positive seems to be the atmosphere onboard. A lot of P&O reviews seem to focus on the vibe of the ship, with smaller ships like Arcadia preferred because they feel more communal and more traditional. This also helps to make the crew feel appreciated more, since they are fewer in number and so become part of that community.

There are some negative reviews which touch on the age of the ship and her need of updates, but otherwise, again, it is mainly long-time P&O guests who feel that the cruises on these small ships aren’t quite as good as they used to be. Most first-time guests leave very positive reviews.

Arcadia is set to have an extensive refurbishment in November 2024.

7. Arvia

Arvia

The newest and largest ship in the P&O fleet, Arvia accommodates over 5,000 guests at full capacity and offers a range of exciting itineraries including Caribbean cruising during the winter months. She’s packed with plenty of great places to dine and drink, and has great entertainment for all ages.

The guests who’ve had a positive experience onboard love the food selection, the exciting ports of call, and the entertainment. The crew are great at keeping kids happy with a range of activities, freeing up the adults to properly unwind by the pool or with a drink in a sophisticated bar or lounge.

Complaints again focus on a lack of “soul” from some guests, but also in her first year there have been some organisational hiccups with flights or with the onboard experience.

A lot of the negative reviews came from her debut Christmas cruise which even made mainstream media – though I was onboard and had a fantastic time!

I’m confident that next year, Arvia’s average score will improve as the kinks are ironed out after her first full year.

FAQs To Help You Choose a P&O Cruise Ship…

Which P&O Ship is the Biggest?

The biggest P&O Cruises ship is Arvia, which launched in 2022 and is the largest cruise ship ever built for the UK market. She is marginally bigger than her sister ship Iona, which launched a year earlier, but both ships are very similar in style.

Which P&O Ship is the Best For Couples?

The best P&O Cruises ships for couples who want to avoid children onboard are Aurora and Arcadia, as these ships are adults-only. However, the more modern ships including Britannia still have a relaxed atmosphere onboard, along with more varied choice of bars and restaurants.

What is the Best P&O Ship for Families?

Iona is the best P&O cruise ship for families, because she has a lot of different activities to enjoy onboard, including plenty of dining choices for picky eaters, and she sails from Southampton for easy cruises without the need to fly.

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The Bottom Line

While it might seem surprising that the big new ships for P&O sit at the bottom of this list, remember that they still have good average review scores. It’s not that they’re disliked, just that people still love the older ships too.

All of the P&O ships review well, and the positive feedback always outweighs the criticism. The cruise line manages to strike a balance between contemporary cruising and a touch of tradition, whilst also catering specifically to Brits – it’s a fine line to walk but the review scores show that, broadly, it succeeds.

Family with Arvia

Using this guide, you should find it easier to pick a ship for your next cruise. But what about your own experiences, do you agree or disagree with the wider reviews? Feel free to add your own list to the comments below.

I’ve also got guides on the best and worst Cunard ships, if you want to see how that British cruise line compares, along with guides for the best and worst Carnival ships if you want to see how P&O’s sister cruise line fares.

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Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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2 thoughts on “Best & Worst P&O Cruises Ships (Ranked By Reviews)”

  1. Much time is spent aboard so entertainment is important. On Iona and Arvia it was dreadful – typical moronic repetitive tuneless modern pop. Upon complaining we were told HQ had directed appeal to younger groups. (We have 16 grandchildren between us.) All very well but the majority of passengers looked to be over 60. Everyone we spoke to moaned; with comments like. ‘The busker on the quay was better.’ We should have been warned before booking. On driving home I went into a McDonalds (first time ever) to go to the toilet and heard the same ‘music’ as we had been subjected to throughout our cruise! Yuk. Never again.

  2. Sailed on Arvia last September and although she is a fete of engineering she lacks soul. There wasn’t any of the feel good factors on board at all especially during ‘Celebration’ nights where the grand atrium was a near empty space with couples looking bored after getting dressed up for the occasion and after being given a voucher for half a glass of house prosecco!
    Having to book everything on the app was a pain and not a relaxing experience at all.
    Arvia gets the thumbs down from us and looking forward to cruising on Aurora in a few weeks time! Happy Days!

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