20 Things That P&O Cruises Used To Offer That They No Longer Do

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Cruise lines change over time, and sometimes that means making improvements, but it can mean taking things away too.

It might be a lack of popularity, or a cost-cutting measure.

P&O Cruises used to offer sailings that were a lot more expensive, but it’s now more value-oriented, which means a lot of the little touches have been taken away.

An aerial view of the P&O Britannia cruise ship sailing through the open sea. The ship's top deck features pools, sunbathing areas, and various amenities, while the Union Jack livery is prominently displayed on the bow. The vessel cuts smoothly through the water, leaving a wake behind.

Let’s take a look at some of the things that the cruise line used to offer, but no longer does.

1. Mini White Company toiletries in rooms

Neatly arranged bathroom featuring a sleek white sink and chrome faucet, with White Company toiletries on the countertop. Glass shelves with stacked towels and a mirror reflect the shower area in the background on a P&O cruise ship.

You used to get miniature White Company toiletries in your cabin bathroom, which were a lovely little premium extra. You could even steal them when your cruise was over – it was totally acceptable!

But now they’ve got rid of them, and instead you’ll just find refillable bottles for handwash and body wash in the bathroom and shower respectively.

It’s better for the environment to use refillable bottles, sure. But it was nice when you had proper miniatures of shampoo, conditioner and body lotion.

You can sometimes get them by asking your cabin attendant, but not always.

2. Grab & Go snack bar

Grab & Go salad container on a table, with a background view of the ocean. The label reads: "Green Bean and Pea Salad with Griddled Vegetables, Pimento Quinoa, Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, Caerphilly Cheese and a Honey Dressing. Production Date: 16-Jun-2019. Use By: 19-Jun-2019." The ingredients are listed below.

When you’re enjoying a relaxing day by the pool, you sometimes don’t want to have to go for a walk to the buffet for a bite to eat.

So the Grab & Go snack bar was perfect – a self-service area where you could pick up a sandwich or other light bite without leaving the area, perfect when you just needed something to tide you over until lunch.

It’s gone, though. It’s not clear whether it’s because of cutbacks or to help prevent the spread of illnesses onboard (because there was nothing to stop people from picking up the items and putting them back).

A shame, but it’s not the end of the world – you can head to the buffet still to find a range of lighter meal options. You’ll just need to throw on something to cover your bathing suit.

3. BYO spirits

Bottle of Kopparberg Premium Gin, Strawberry & Lime flavor, with an alcohol content of 37.5%, placed on a light beige surface. The label features an illustrated scenic landscape with trees and a winding path.

P&O Cruises made some big changes to its alcohol policies in May 2024, including raising the prices of drinks packages and altering the rules on what drinks you could bring onboard for your cruise.

No longer can you bring your own beer or bottle of spirits – now you’re limited to a bottle of wine or Champagne, up to 1 litre in size.

When I’ve cruised with my husband previously, we saved hundreds on drinks by bringing a spirit bottle each along with some mixers.

It’s true that P&O is now in line with other cruise lines, but it’s still a shame for a lot of people who liked this perk of sailing with P&O.

4. Fancy cutlery with P&O logo on

Cutlery with P&O Cruises logo

In the main dining room on your P&O cruise, you used to get fancy cutlery that was imprinted with the P&O Cruises logo.

That’s been changed now to regular cutlery, which I understand would be cheaper to produce and replace, but it’s still just one of those tiny little touches that were nice, but we don’t get anymore.

5. Free 3rd and 4th guests on cruises under 7 nights

A smiling family of four stands in front of a docked P&O cruise ship. The mother, wearing a yellow cardigan, holds the camera, while the father, in a red hoodie, stands beside their son in a green hoodie and daughter in a pink jacket, who holds postcards. The cruise ship features the Union Jack on its bow.

When booking a family cruise, you want to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible. And with P&O Cruises you can sometimes enjoy offers where the 3rd and 4th guest in your cabin cruise for free.

However it’s now only available on cruises of 7 nights or more, but you used to be able to enjoy it on shorter cruises lasting 3 or 4 nights.

So if you want to take the kids on a short break during half term, you’re going to be paying full price for them, or at best a discounted rate. They won’t be free, though.

Suggested read: How to Find Bargain School Holidays Cruises with P&O Cruises

6. Option to wear fancy dress

A performer in a black and white striped suit with a curly green wig poses beside an easel with a simple line drawing of a face, creating a whimsical and artistic atmosphere in a cruise ship's bustling indoor promenade

You used to be allowed to wear fancy dress on a P&O cruise, though not on formal nights of course. Obviously, it’s not something you would do regularly, but maybe if you were celebrating a stag or hen party onboard.

But that’s not allowed anymore, ever since the infamous ‘clown’ incident…

To be clear, the incident was a mass brawl that happened on Britannia which was rumoured to involve someone in clown fancy dress, but that has since been denied – there wasn’t actually a clown.

Still, for the avoidance of doubt and to make sure that such an incident couldn’t be sparked by someone in a costume, fancy dress is no longer permitted.

7. 5-course dinners

A gourmet plate of Beef Wellington served with roasted vegetables, a potato gratin, and a drizzle of sauce on P&O Main Dining Room. Accompanied by a glass of red wine and a glass of water with a lemon slice in the background, the setting exudes fine dining.

You used to be able to enjoy a five-course dinner on a P&O cruise, which would include a fish course and a sorbet as a palate cleanser.

Everything’s been simplified now though, and instead, you’ll get a standard three courses. 

There’ll be plenty of choices and the menu will change each day, but it’s a little less fancy than the older five-course options.

You can still make your three courses into four by ordering a soup as well as a salad for your starters though!

8. Great British Sailaway

P&O Cruises great British sailaway

P&O Cruises is very much a British cruise line, aimed at British passengers. But it used to do a lot more celebrating of the British spirit.

This would include the Great British Sailaway party, which would include a lot of plastic flag-waving and traditional songs such as Jerusalem.

That’s all gone now. Sailaway parties do still happen but without all the flags and bunting, and with pop songs replacing the patriotic song choices.

Guests have claimed that the crew explained that the parties were ditched to be more politically correct, but also to reduce the single-use plastics with the flags.

It was all very cheesy but it was fun. 

9. Evening turndown service

Chocolate on pilllow

On your cruise, you’ll have a cabin steward who will attend to your room daily, making sure that you have fresh towels and a beautifully made bed.

But you used to get an evening turndown service as well, so that the room was fresh and ready for you to sleep in, and a chocolate on your pillow.

This isn’t just a P&O change, but one that’s happened across cruise lines. The days of the evening turndown are over across pretty much every cruise line, although premium lines like Cunard and Celebrity Cruises still offer it.

10. Chocoholics buffet

There used to be a special event held on a P&O cruise, which was a chocolate buffet. It’d take place once per cruise and would be a special buffet dedicated to gateaux, other cakes, chocolate treats and a chocolate fountain.

It was extremely popular – lines would be long – even if there wasn’t always a huge amount of variety in what was on offer.

It’s been a few years since P&O offered this, but there are still plenty of sweet treats you can enjoy in the regular buffet.

11. Trays in the buffet

P&O Cruises buffet food on a tray

This one might seem really minor, but trust me – people do miss it! And that’s having trays in the buffet on the ship.

Now you just get your plate, which is fine if you’re serving yourself, but it does make it a lot harder to grab meals for your family, particularly if you’re travelling with kids that you don’t quite trust to hold their own plate yet.

You often have to make multiple trips, instead of just having two plates on an easy-to-carry tray. I’m not sure why the trays have gone, but it would be handy if they came back.

At the very least, I’d like them to be available on request for families or those who need to get food for a friend or relative as well as their own.

12. Cruise directors

Captain Wesley Dunlop and an entertainment manager on Britannia in 2019.

You no longer get cruise directors on a P&O cruise. Instead, there are entertainment managers who do a similar job, helping to put together a schedule of activities throughout the day.

Some guests feel like the job has been watered down, and that there isn’t the same level of thought put into the schedule, with clashes happening.

Ultimately it’s not something that’s really been taken away, more that it’s changed and maybe not for the better. Have you ever felt frustrated at the activities on a P&O cruise?

13. Cheese and crackers (including Stilton)

Port and Stilton on Britannia in 2019

At the end of dinner, you used to be able to select your own cheese and crackers as a way of rounding out the meal.

This included real care and attention for the types of cheese – such as whole Stilton soaked in port, brought to the table, carefully scooped and served at the right temperature.

You can still get a cheese plate for your dessert but it’s not something you can customise and it’s just a standard plate – not as good as it used to be.

14. Afternoon tea in the Main Dining Room

A smiling server in a patterned vest and tie pouring tea during afternoon tea service on a P&O cruise ship. The table is adorned with a menu and purple orchid decorations, adding a touch of elegance to the setting.

We’ve established that P&O is a very British cruise line and so you won’t be shocked that afternoon tea is popular onboard.

But it’s no longer served in the main restaurant as an included service, meaning instead you’ll need to visit one of the smaller restaurants to enjoy it for an additional charge.

A lot of guests are disappointed that you don’t get this for free anymore, but you can always make your own in the buffet. It might not be quite the same, but it’s a decent plan B.

15. Biscuits on your tea tray

P&O Cruises tea tray with kettle but no biscuits

American cruise lines are usually missing a very important item in the cabins for British guests – a kettle. Don’t worry, P&O still has one, so you can still enjoy that fresh brew each morning.

However, you used to get better quality biscuits on your tea tray too, with more should you run out. Now, it’s just basic options. They’ll be topped up as your tea and coffee supplies are, but it’s another small cutback that can disappoint loyal guests.

16. Boiled sweets in the cabin

Another cabin extra that’s disappeared – you no longer get a small selection of hard-boiled sweets in your room to enjoy.

Best to bring your own if you like these. You can find sweets in the onboard shops but the prices are extremely high!

17. Hot breakfast room service

My kids enjoying room service breakfast on Christmas day on Arvia

Room service is a great way to relax and enjoy a leisurely start to the day, and with P&O you don’t have to pay for breakfast – just fill out the card the night before with what you’d like, and it’ll be delivered free the next morning.

However, you can’t select hot items. It’s now a continental breakfast only, meaning fruits, cereals and pastries.

If you love a Full English or just a fried egg sandwich, you’ll need to head to the buffet or main dining room instead.

18. Free kitchen and bridge tours

A ship captain and a passenger on the bridge of the P&O Britannia ship. The captain, dressed in a white uniform, is explaining the navigation controls to the passenger, who is leaning forward and engaged. The bridge features modern equipment and large windows offering a panoramic view.

P&O used to offer behind-the-scenes tours of different parts of the ship, including the bridge where the officers steer the ship, and the kitchens for the main dining rooms. And the best thing is that the tours were free.

You can still enjoy the tours, but they cost extra now. It’s worthwhile, lasting around 3 hours, but if you’re used to the free tour then you might not want to pay the extra.

19. Various menu staples

A vegetarian dinner served in the main dining room on the P&O Britannia. The dish features a breaded and fried patty with black sesame seeds, placed on a bed of mixed greens and thinly sliced radishes, garnished with small dollops of purple sauce. The presentation is elegant and appetizing.

Guests have posted a lot on social media about some of the menu options that are no longer widely available on P&O cruises.

Prawn cocktail starters are often mentioned, along with “proper” cheesecake – there are some cheesecake options but they are often vegan, meaning they’re great for me, but they aren’t authentic cheesecake!

Dinner menus still have plenty of choice but there are some who miss the classic options that were common.

20. Fruit juice by the pool

Chilled fruit juice by the pool on Britannia

Before the shutdown, P&O Cruises used to have large containers of chilled water and juice by the pool, along with paper cups.

While it was lovely to be able to help yourself to a drink without queing at the bar, I can see why they don’t do this any more. It was probably stopped with the increased hygiene measures required, and not started again as the cruise line would rather you pay for drinks.

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Final Word

A lot of these things might sound like ‘first world problems’, and it’s true that P&O’s cruises are still very popular.

But it can still be disappointing for long-time P&O fans to find that the experience isn’t as good as they remember it, even if it’s just a culmination of very small tweaks and changes.

Have you noticed the difference on your own cruises, with P&O or with any other cruise line?

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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 “20 Things That P&O Cruises Used To Offer That They No Longer Do”

  1. All reasons why we no longer want to cruise with P&O.

  2. P and o are now awful cruise company..
    We were duped with flights with maleth aero to
    Caribbean..massive delays..refuse to pay legally entitled compensation. For 7.5 hour delays

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