How to Find Bargain School Holidays Cruises with P&O Cruises

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P&O Cruises have some absolutely amazing deals for families. Plus, their family-friendly ships are fantastic for kids.

I’ve booked a 7-night cruise in the school holidays with P&O Cruises for under £1200 for a family of four. That’s less than £43 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, then 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 a cruise on Britannia

Why P&O Cruises?

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

Free child prices

From time to time, P&O Cruises offer discounted or free 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.

Usually, P&O Cruises charge between £49 and £199 for kids while their special offer is on. But at the time of writing, kids places are currently FREE on selected cruises!

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.

Suggested read: What’s included in a P&O Cruise?

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.

P&O Cruises bar prices are very reasonable – similarly priced to your local pub and around half the price of some of the American cruise lines. Drinks packages are also available if you’d like to turn your cruise from full-board to all-inclusive.

Suggested read: Is the P&O drinks package worth it?

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

Iona splash zone
Splash Zone on new ship Iona

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

The majority of free 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 any more school than they have already, 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.

How to find the cheapest cruises in the school holidays

Want to find 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 and find the cruises with the reduced prices.

  • Don’t enter any info, just click the red Search button
  • At the top, filter the Special Offer to “Plus, extra guests sail for free”
  • The results will be ordered by date with the 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.

In my case, the February half term dates are a week different between P&O Cruises dates and the actual school holiday dates for our school. In the past, I’ve seen the same for October half term.

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 years before the sailing date.

P&O Cruises limit child places on each ship to make sure that there’s enough room in the kids clubs. Because of this, kids places in the school holidays always sell out really fast.

In the past, I’ve tried to book a cruise on the second day after it was released and all the kids places had gone!

Don’t Overpay For Your P&O Cruise!

Here’s how I get the lowest price when I book a cruise…

1. Compare prices from every travel agent in one place.

2. Choose a trusted travel agent with a best price guarantee.

Please don’t book with any old company just because they have a cheap deal. I recommend that you find the best price and then take it to a trusted travel agent who will beat it, as well as giving you the best service.

Family with Iona
My family on a cruise on Iona

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8 thoughts on “How to Find Bargain School Holidays Cruises with P&O Cruises”

  1. You mention in the ‘drinks’ section that you could put a bottle of wine and gin in a suitcase and they won’t mind. Is that true?

    • Yes, P&O Cruises allows you to bring up to 1 litre of alcohol per person. Jenni

  2. How do you book if you are looking for a trip with 2 adults and 3 children(under 11)? It’s saying there are no cabins for that many people, so would I have to book 2 cabins?

    • Hi Colin. Yes, P&O Cruises only offer cabins for up to four. However, you can get two cabins with a connecting door. Jenni

  3. Thank you! This blog post has been really helpful in aiding us make a decision on booking a cruise. Do you know when they release the offers for £99 per additional person please.
    Thank you 🙂

    • Hi Jodie. I just checked and the offer is on right now. If you go to and do a search, click ‘more filters’ and then ‘themes’ and you can find all the cruises with extra guests for £99. This is a bit hidden because there’s also a filter for ‘special offers’ and it’s not in there, it’s under ‘themes’ for some reason! I hope this helps. Jenni

  4. I have always said ‘you’ll never get me on a cruise’, but I have changed my mind and we are cruising on Iona with our teenage children (17 & 13 years) on 25 July as a special birthday treat. We are just trying to work out which shore excursions (if any) we should book now, or should we wait and book when we are on board. I have found all the information on your website REALLY useful, thank you.

    • Hi Liz. I’m really glad you’ve found my website useful! It’s a good idea to plan what you’re going to do on each day of your cruise so that you don’t get off the ship and think, now what? Personally, I like to do my own thing to save money but organised excursions do make everything much easier. If that’s your plan them definitely book them before you go, as they will cost a lot more on-board. Jenni

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