How to find really cheap school holidays cruises with P&O Cruises

How to find really cheap school holidays cruises with P&O Cruises

14th October 2019 4 By Cruise Mummy
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P&O Cruises have some absolutely amazing deals for families. Plus, their family-friendly ships are fantastic for kids. (No, I’ve not been paid to write this!)

I’ve managed to find a 7-night cruise on P&O Cruises new flagship, Iona, for as little as £1256 for a family of 4 during the school holidays. That’s less than £50 per person, per night, which is amazing value when you consider how much is included. And that my kids won’t need to miss any school whatsoever.

If you’d like to book a cruise but are put off by the price of cruising with children in the school holidays, please read on to find out how you can find really cheap cruise deals in the school holidays with P&O Cruises…

P&O Britannia family cruise
My family on our first P&O cruise

Why P&O Cruises?

Whilst there are many family-friendly cruise lines around, P&O Cruises is the one which stands out as offering exceptional value for money for British families. Here’s why…

Reduced child prices

From time to time, P&O Cruises offer discounted child places. This can drastically reduce the cost of your cruise if you’re cruising as a family of three of four sharing one cabin. At the time of writing, P&O Cruises are offering child places from just £49 for a 7-night cruise and £99 for a 14-night cruise. In the past, I’ve got child places for £1, which has halved the overall cost of my cruise!

No gratuities

P&O Cruises is one of the few cruise lines not to add on gratuities (also known as tips). Gratuities with a cruise line such as Royal Caribbean would cost £46 per day for a family of four. P&O Cruises include this in the price that you pay upfront, which immediately saves you over £300 on a seven-night cruise compared to some other cruise lines.

Cheap drinks

A lot of the extra that people spend onboard their cruise is on drinks. This can soon mount up, and even if you’re not a heavy drinker you can easily spend an additional 30% of your cruise fare on drinks. The drinks on P&O Cruises are very reasonable – similarly priced to your local pub and around half the price of some of the American cruise lines. You can see P&O drinks prices here.

Plus, if you want to put some wine or gin in your suitcase to drink on your balcony, they don’t mind at all.

Splash Zone on Iona
Splash Zone on new ship Iona

What’s the catch with P&O Cruises reduced child places?

The majority of discounted child places are on term-time cruises. This is great for anyone with pre-school age children. Also, babies under two sail for a set fee of £49 or £99 on many P&O Cruises, even in the school holidays.

However, if you really don’t want your older children to miss school, or perhaps you work in education yourself, it’s quite possible to find reduced prices in the school holidays such as Easter, summer and half term. Here’s how…

A step-by-step guide to finding the cheapest cruises in the school holidays

Want to find the cheap school holiday deals? Here’s what I do…

1. Get a list of your school holiday dates

Firstly, get hold of a list of the exact term dates. The most accurate place to get this from is your child’s school. If they don’t have it far enough in advance, you can usually find a copy on your local council’s website and confirm with the school that it’s correct.

2. Search for all cruises and filter to only those with reduced prices for children

Next, go onto the P&O Cruises website. Use the search filters to select “Additional guest from £99pp” or whatever the current offer is.

Bear in mind, that this is usually the price for additional adults in the cabin beyond the first two, so when you book for children it will probably be even cheaper than it shows you. Most of the cruises which state “extra guests from £99pp” are actually only £49 extra if you book it for a child.

Now, order the results by date order, next departures first.

3. Cross-reference the cruises on offer with ones in the school holidays

Now you have a list of school holidays and a list of reduced cruises, you just have to work down the list, looking for matches.

The idea behind this is that school holidays differ so much between schools that there will be some dates that your kids are off school AND the fares are reduced. Cruisers living in Scotland or Northern Ireland will probably have more choice than those in England and Wales, but most people should find at least one discounted date to take advantage of.

4. Save any matches to favourites

If you spot any reduced dates that your kids aren’t in school, click the little heart on the P&O Cruises website to save it. When you get to the end, go to the homepage and click the heart at the very top of the page to see your cruises.

Bear in mind that, sometimes, there may be a slight overlap, so that a reduced cruise would mean missing one or two days of school, but the total price is less than half of what it would be in the school holidays. You can use your own judgement on whether you’re comfortable with this given your own circumstances. Here are some things to consider if you’re thinking of taking your kids out of school.

5. Book your cruise as soon as you can

The best time to book your cruise is as soon as the itineraries go on sale, which can be up to two and a half years before the sailing date! Not only will family cabins sell out much more quickly than cabins that sleep two, but the prices will certainly go up. If you see a cruise that you want, it makes sense not to wait.

If you book with a travel agent which offers interest-free monthly payments, you could pay off your family’s cruise holiday from as little as £50 per month. Some of them don’t even need a deposit.

Scubas kids' club on new ship Iona
Scubas kids’ club on new ship Iona

The cruise I’m booking…

At the time of writing, the dates and prices have just been released on P&O Cruises until April 2022 and the offer on reduced kids places will be in place on bookings made in the next couple of months.

I was lucky enough to find one discounted cruise which is in the Easter holidays in 2022 where I live. I also found another in the summer holidays of 2021 which would mean missing one day of school.

I’m yet to decide which one to book, but I have another week or so yet until the cruises are actually bookable. Maybe I’ll book both! With prices this good, P&O Cruises offer better value for money than any other cruise line or any land-based holiday I can think of.

Will you be booking a P&O cruise soon? Let me know in the comments!

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