When you’re planning your first cruise (or your first cruise with P&O Cruises at least) it can be tricky to know what you’ll get for your money and what you’ll need to budget extra for.
I regularly get asked via my Instagram about what’s included in a P&O Cruise, so I noticed that this information can be tricky to find online.
Plus, as P&O Cruises have three fares – Select Price, Saver and Early Saver – you’ll also need to know what’s included in each so that you can decide which fare offers the best value for money.
I’ve created this simple guide that will show you exactly what’s included in P&O Cruises’ fares and what costs extra. I hope that this will help you plan your cruise and save money.
P&O Cruises is one of my favourite cruise lines so I’m always following their latest cruise news. If you’d like me to keep you updated about P&O Cruises, just pop your email in the form below…
What’s included in P&O Cruises and what costs extra..?
When you book a P&O Cruise you can choose to stay in one of several different cabin types:
- Inside cabins– The cheapest cabins with no windows
- Sea view cabins – Include a window or porthole
- Balcony cabins – With a private balcony to step outside
- Suites – VIP accommodation with added perks
You’ll find specific cabin types such as mini-suites, superior deluxe balcony cabins, and single cabins within these types.
Whichever cabin type you choose, you’ll enjoy the following comforts:
- En-suite bathrooms
- Air conditioning
- Tea and coffee making facilities
- Toiletries pack
If you stay in a suite you’ll also get lots of included extras in your room such as fresh fruit, Champagne, chocolates and a bathrobe and slippers to name but a few. You can see a full list of P&O Cruises suite perks here.
When booking your P&O cruise, you’ll have two main decisions to make:
- What type of cabin would you like? E.g. inside, outside, balcony or suite
- Do you want to pick your cabin number or not?
If you want to choose your cabin number, you’ll need to book the Select Fare. If you don’t mind which cabin you get, then the Saver or Early Saver Fare will be cheaper.
Choose the exact cabin you would like
Saver & Early Saver Fares
Choose the cabin type you would like and your cabin number will be assigned to you
So should you choose your cabin number, or book what is known as a ‘guarantee cabin’ and have it assigned to you a few weeks before your cruise?
Well, that really depends on whether you want a cabin in a certain location (such as a low deck if you get seasick or near the lifts if you can’t walk too far).
To help you decide, take a look at my P&O Cruises cabin guides for the ship that you’re interested in…
- Britannia cabins
- Iona cabins
- Arvia cabins
- Ventura & Azura cabins (these two ships are virtually identical)
- Arcadia cabins
- Aurora cabins
Booking the Select Fare doesn’t just allow you to choose a cabin number, you’ll also get some other perks, which we’ll discuss further in this guide.
Sometimes, free upgrades are given. This can mean that you pay for an inside cabin but get upgraded to a balcony for no extra cost. Upgrades are first offered to Select Fare guests, then Extra Saver Fare guests, then Saver Fare guests.
P&O Cruises include breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and snacks in a choice of venues. Each ship also has speciality restaurants where you can dine for a set fee.
Included food on P&O Cruises:
- Main Dining Room – For breakfast, lunch and dinner
- Buffet Restaurant – For breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus an early tea for kids
- The Quays – A multi-venue food court (only on Iona and Arvia)
- Casual Snack Bars – Sandwiches, salads, fruit, cakes etc
- Poolside Grill – Burgers, hot dogs, chips, pizzas etc
- Poolside Pizzeria – Handmade stone-baked pizza slices
- Afternoon Tea – Finger sandwiches, scones, tea and coffee
Food that costs extra on P&O Cruises:
- Speciality Dining – Restaurants offering global cuisine with a cover charge
- Market Cafe – Crepes, waffles, cakes and biscuits
- Ice Cream – Outside of mealtimes, ice cream has an extra charge
The speciality dining venues vary by ship, with some favourites such as Sindhu Indian restaurant appearing on every P&O Cruises ship.
The cover charges are reasonable, ranging from £7.50 per person for dinner at The Beach House to £30.00 per person for dinner at The Epicurean.
Although children are welcome in the speciality restaurants, there are no children’s menu and no children’s prices. I prefer to take the kids to the earlier kids tea in the buffet restaurant and then leave them at the kids’ club while we enjoy an adult-only dining experience.
There’s really no need to pay any extra for food on your P&O Cruise, especially if you’re cruising for less than a week. While it can be nice to dine in a speciality restaurant for a special occasion, you really don’t need to budget anything extra for food if you don’t want to.
Suggested read: P&O Iona restaurants and bars
There are some drinks on P&O Cruises that are always available free of charge. For other drinks, you can either add these to your bill individually and pay for them at the end of your cruise, or you can buy a drinks package that will make your cruise all-inclusive.
Included drinks on P&O Cruises:
- Glasses of water
- Fruit juices (at breakfast)
When you book your cruise, you’ll need to decide whether to buy a drinks package or to pay for your alcohol and soft drinks individually. There are five different drinks packages to choose from, and which one is best depends on what you like to drink.
To help you decide whether to buy a drink package or not, I’ve put together this thorough guide: P&O drinks Packages Guide.
If you’d like to take a look at the drinks menus to get an idea of prices, you can see those here: P&O Cruises drinks menus.
I’ve also made a calculator to help you decide if you’ll pay more with our with a drink package. You just enter how many of each drink you plan to have and it will work out your expected bar bill for you so you know if you’ll break even on the package or not….
4. Room service
On P&O Cruises, room service is free of charge at breakfast time (7am to 11am), but there’s a charge at all other times.
Included room service breakfast on P&O Cruises:
- Fruit juices and smoothies
- Fruit and compotes
- Croissants, muffins, Danish pastries, pain au chocolat
- Panini with sausage, bacon and tomato
To order the free breakfast room service on your P&O cruise, just mark what items you want on the card along with your preferred delivery time and hang it on the outside of your door.
After 11am, the room service prices on P&O Cruises are very reasonable.
P&O Cruises room service prices:
- Baguettes with salad and crisps – £1.50
- Wraps with fries and tabbouleh salad – £2.50
- Speciality sandwiches with fries – £4.75
- Kids sandwiches with orange juice, yoghurt and brownie – £2.00
- Soups and salads- £1.25
- Small plates (starters) – £2.00
- Large plates (mains) – £4.75
- Sharing plates – £7.00 to £10.00
- Healthy salads and omelettes – £3.00
- Cream tea – £3.00
- Desserts – £2.50
- Sides – £1.00
- Cookies, brownies, muffins and doughnuts – £1.00
You can also order drinks via room service. See the menu with prices below…
P&O Cruises Minibar
There is an extra charge for items from your minibar on P&O Cruises. The mini bar is not included in the drinks package either.
You can see P&O Cruises mini bar price list below…
I usually ask our cabin steward to empty the minibar. That leaves the fridge free so that we can store our own drinks.
P&O Cruises let you bring up to one litre of alcohol plus unlimited non-alcoholic drinks on board with you. You can also bring on extra non-alcoholic drinks in each port of call and keep them in your minibar.
Your P&O cruise will include a range of entertainment throughout the day and evening at no extra cost. Each evening you’ll receive a daily programme called Horizon which will have the details of all of the activities and entertainment for the following day.
Included entertainment on P&O Cruises:
- West End-style theatre performances
- Live music and tribute acts
- Cabaret, musicians and acrobats
There’s no charge to watch any of the shows on P&O Cruises’ ships.
On P&O cruises, the whole family can enjoy a wide variety of activities at no extra cost…
Included activities on P&O Cruises:
- Swimming pools and hot tubs
- Gym and fitness classes
- Running track
- Sports court with football, basketball and tennis
- Golf nets
- Deck quoits and shuffleboard
- Table tennis
- Dance classes
- Card room and bridge classes
- Pub quizzes
- Family discos
- Sports tournaments
- Seminars with guest speakers
- Kids’ bingo
Some activities do have an extra charge. These are activities done in small groups such as cookery classes or behind the scenes tours, as well as activities where you get to take something home such as photos or souvenirs.
Activities on P&O Cruises that cost extra:
- Spa with thermal suite, saunas and steam rooms
- Hair and beauty services
- Cooking classes
- Art auctions
- Shopping e.g. Clothes, jewellery, perfume and souvenirs
- Behind the scenes tours
- Photo shoots
- 1 to 1 dance tuition
- Art classes
7. Kids’ clubs
P&O Cruises offer The Reef Children’s Club which is free of charge at all times. It’s open from just after breakfast until late in the evening, with breaks for mealtimes.
The P&O kids’ club is split into four age groups:
- Splashers: 2 to 4 years old
- Surfers: 5 to 8 years old
- Scubas: 9 to 12 years old
- H2O / The Scene: 13 to 17 years old
On cruises outside the school holidays when there are fewer children on board, the groups may be combined.
The activities on board P&O Cruises ships for kids in The Reef include arts and crafts, sports tournaments, soft play, games consoles, quizzes, karaoke and movie nights.
As well as the kids clubs, P&O Cruises offer a free night nursery service for children aged four and under. This is a group babysitting service for children who are asleep. It’s open between 6 pm and 2 am on a first-come-first-served basis.
8. Service charges
While some other cruise lines mandate a daily service charge known as a gratuity, P&O Cruises include this in the cruise fare, so you won’t get a bill for it at the end of your cruise.
Tipping staff isn’t required or expected on board P&O Cruises ships. There’s also no service charge when purchasing drinks on board.
If you’d like to tip certain staff members such as your cabin steward or waiter at the end of your cruise you can do, but you don’t need to and most people don’t as tips are included in your P&O Cruises fare.
If you bring your own wine on board with you, you may drink it in public areas subject to a £20 per bottle corkage fee. If you drink the alcohol in your own cabin there’s no charge.
Wifi is available on P&O Cruises’ ships for an extra charge.
When your cruise ship is in port you’ll be able to connect to the internet over 3G, 4G or 5G. However, when the ship is at sea you’ll want to turn this off to avoid a huge bill. And I mean huge! Data roaming at sea is notoriously expensive.
If you’d like to stay connected to the internet at sea, P&O Cruises offer three wifi packages:
- The Connect Package – Social media and WhatsApp
- The Browse Package – As above plus general internet browsing and emails
- The Works – As above plus streaming services (e.g. YouTube, Spotify) and video calling
You can purchase each package by the minute, for 24 hours or for your whole cruise.
P&O Cruises wifi prices
|Package||Price per minute||Price for 24 hours||Price for full cruise|
|Connect||n/a||£7.75||£6.75 per day|
|Browse||n/a||£12.50||£12.50 per day|
|Works||65p||£24.95||£20 per day|
If you book your internet via the My P&O Cruises planner at least 72 hours before your cruise you can save up to 20% on the Browse Package and get 24 hours for £10.
If you need internet access for medical reasons such as a continuous glucose monitoring device for diabetes, you can get this free of charge on P&O Cruises. Just ask at the reception desk on board for a free 100-minute internet voucher.
P&O Cruises offers two options for laundry:
- Self-service laundrettes – Free of charge
- Professional laundry services – For a fee
You’ll find a laundrette on most cabin decks, take a look at the deck plan to find your nearest. Here there will be washing machines, sinks, tumble dryers, irons and ironing boards.
The self-service laundrettes can get quite busy on sea days on longer cruises, so you may wish to do your laundry in the early morning or evenings to avoid the queues. The laundrettes close at 10 pm until 8 am so as not to disturb people in cabins nearby.
It’s a good idea to take your own 2-in1 washing tablets. Otherwise, you can buy them from the onboard shop.
If you’d rather not spend your cruise holiday doing laundry, you can send items to be washed, pressed or dry cleaned. If you hand laundry to your cabin steward before 10 am it will be returned the same day.
Professional cleaning is charged per item. On longer cruises, you may find special offers for multiple items.
Here is the P&O Cruises laundry price list…
11. Flights and overseas transfers
P&O Cruises offer cruise holidays as well as fly-cruise packages that include flights and overseas transfers.
If your cruise departs from a port outside of the UK, you will usually get flights and overseas transfers included in the cost of your package holiday.
If you prefer, it is possible to arrange your own flights or have a travel agent do this for you rather than travelling on the flight that comes as a package with your cruise you can do so. One thing to bear in mind with this option though, is that if you travel on a P&O Cruises flight and it’s delayed, the ship will wait for you. If you book your own flight, it won’t.
P&O Cruises offer flights from the following UK cities:
- East Midlands
There is often a supplement for regional departures outside of London. You may also choose to pay extra to upgrade your flight to premium economy, business class or first class.
12. Transfers to Southampton
Depending on whether you choose P&O Cruises Select Fare, Saver Fare or Early Saver Fare, you may be able to enjoy included transport to Southampton cruise terminal. This is an option on cruises of seven nights or more that depart from Southampton.
Option to have return coach travel to Southampton from a local pick-up point
(You can instead opt for free parking or on-board credit)
Saver & Early Saver Fares
Make your own way to Southampton
As I live in the north of England, I usually book the Select Fare because the free coach travel alone is worth the extra cost. In the past, I have paid as little as £1 for kids places, which includes a seat on the coach!
If the coach to Southampton isn’t for you, you can instead choose free car parking in Southampton or some extra on-board spending money.
For cruises departing from Southampton, P&O Cruises can book internal flights from regional UK airports for an extra cost.
13. Shuttles buses in port
Another advantage of choosing P&O Cruises’ Select Fare is that it entitles you to ride the shuttle buses for free. These offer a constant service running between the ship and the city centre.
Free shuttle buses in port from ship to city centre
Saver & Early Saver Fares
Shuttle buses available for around £5 per person each way
The shuttle buses aren’t available in every port. This is because in some ports your ship will dock very close to the city centre so there is no need for one.
Some ports are working cargo ports where it’s not safe or possible for passengers to explore on foot. In these ports, a free shuttle bus will be provided for everyone.
In some ports, you’ll find independent buses and taxis which can work out to be a similar price to paying for the P&O shuttle bus.
14. Shore excursions
On P&O Cruises, shore excursions are available for an extra charge.
For the time being, guests are only allowed to go ashore on official P&O Cruises shore excursions. This is because these experiences have been organised and vetted to ensure that they are compliant with health and safety protocols to meet government guidelines to prevent the transmission of disease.
While shore excursions are a requirement, P&O Cruises has worked to make them more affordable than usual. After booking, you can see which shore experiences are available for your cruise on the My P&O Cruises planner.
P&O Cruises on board credit
When you book a Select Price P&O cruise, you may receive some free on board credit to spend on the ship. Many people wonder what to spend this free money on, and you may wish to plan this before you go.
You can spend P&O Cruises on board credit on:
- Drinks (individually or as a package)
- Speciality dining*
- Shore excursions*
- Spa services, hair and beauty treatments*
- Items from any of the onboard shops
- Laundry and dry cleaning
- Internet and telephone charges
- Artwork from the gallery
- Celebration packages*
*To use your on board credit, you must book these on the ship, not before embarkation
You can not use P&O Cruises on board credit to buy:
- Shore excursions, speciality dining or spa services that are booked before embarkation
- Medical charges
- Cash back
- Future cruises
- Flight upgrades
- Foreign currency
- Casino and arcades
- Charity donations
- Shore excursion cancellation charges
There is no refund or cash alternative for any on board credit that’s not spent before disembarkation. So if you have any left at the end of your cruise, be sure to head to the souvenir shop to spend it.
P&O Cruises offer great value for money as there’s so much included. While many other cruise lines charge extra for gratuities, service charges on drinks and breakfast room service, these are included in the ticket price with P&O Cruises.
The free late-night babysitting for under-fives is something that you also won’t find on any other cruise line.
It’s possible to cruise with P&O without spending anything at all on top of your cruise ticket price. That said, most people do leave with something on their bill, even if it’s just drinks.