Cunard vs. P&O Cruises

Compare by: Demographics | Itineraries | Cabins | Dining | Onboard Fun | Entertainment | Family Focus | Pricing

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Who are you going to meet?

Cunard Line

  • American and British passengers in equal proportions on Atlantic crossings, plus plenty of continental Europeans.
  • American cruises attract mostly Americans, while on European cruises its mostly British passengers.
  • Passengers on crossings represent all age groups, while cruises tend to be older though still with a fair number of young passengers and families.

Cunard Line Forums

P&O Cruises

  • The line has seven ships – four larger, newer ships catering to the family market; and three smaller, and older which are adults-only.
  • Catering exclusively to the British market, passengers are almost entirely from the U.K.

P&O Cruises Forums


Itchen Toll Bridge, Southampton, UK

Where are they based, and where do they go?

Cunard Line

  • This British-American cruise line's three ships are based in Southampton.
  • Itineraries are many and varied, with ships travelling all over the globe, including to the Baltic, Canary Islands, the Caribbean, Central America and the Panama Canal and Australia.

P&O Cruises

  • Ships sail from Southampton from April to November to destinations around the Mediterranean, Northern Europe and the Canary Islands.
  • Ventura and Oceana ships offer fly-cruises to the Mediterranean from Venice.
  • In winter months Ventura is based in Barbados and Britannia – the line's newest and biggest ship – is based in St Lucia.

Penthouse suite on QM2

What's the accommodation like?

Cunard Line

  • Broad range of accommodations on QM2, from the relatively modest inside cabins (157 square feet) to extravagant duplex suites - style is traditional elegance.
  • QM2 and Queen Victoria also have lavish suites of some 2,000 square feet overlooking the stern, while standard cabins are spacious.

P&O Cruises

  • A choice of interconnecting and family cabins onboard the family ships (Britannia, Ventura, Azura and Oceana).
  • Britannia offers the line's first solo cabins with balconies.
  • At 184 square feet, cabin sizes are on par with most other mainstream cruise lines.

 Afternoon Tea in The Epicurean by Eric Lanlard

What are the dining options?

Cunard Line

  • A well-established Cunard tradition, the passengers in the best cabins dine in the single sitting Queens Grill and Princess Grill restaurants.
  • Those in standard accommodations eat at the two-deck-high, 800-seat Britannia restaurant. Here you have the choice of first or second seating for dinner, but lunch and breakfast are open seating.
  • Other dining options include a traditional-style pub serving British favourites, the Lido buffet (for breakfast and lunch), and The Verandah restaurant, plus additional for-fee venues for lunch and dinner.

P&O Cruises

  • Focusing on chef partnerships, there's Michelin-starred Atul Kochhar, whose Sindhu restaurant is onboard most ships, and celebrity chef Marco Pierre White, who oversees the gala dinners in the main dining rooms.
  • The Epicurean is the line's first foray into 'molecular gastronomy' and is available on Britannia and Ventura.
  • Passengers have the opportunity to cook with James Martin and Eric "Cake Boy" Lanlard (who also provides the Afternoon Tea in the Epicurean), in the first Cookery Club at sea on Britannia.
  • Passengers cruising on Britannia, Azura, Ventura, Arcadia and Oceana can choose Club Dining (traditional set seating) or Freedom Dining (flexible dining times and seating).

Planetarium at Sea

What's each line's idea of fun?

Cunard Line

  • Activities lean more towards the high-brow than high-energy with top-notch enrichment programs, though there's more than a smattering of glamorous pizzazz on offer.
  • The QM2 has the first planetarium at sea, carries Oxford dons for classroom learning and offers acting workshops with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.
  • While dancing is an ever-popular activity on all three ships, the Queen Elizabeth is all about the dance with dancing every day, morning, noon and night.

P&O Cruises

  • Also leans away from adrenaline-fuelled activities towards traditional sports such as short-tennis, mini-golf, basketball and cricket, often in a dedicated sports area (on the family ships); on the adults-only ships you'll find shuffleboard and quoits.
  • On the family-friendly ships, expect pool-based water games like volleyball and deck fun that is less cheesy and more organized, including dancing with the exuberant entertainment team.

Strictly Come Dancing

What's the nighttime entertainment like?

Cunard Line

  • QM2 features the the first-ever Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar at sea, while an unobtrusive two-level disco (which gets surprisingly busy) and the largest dance floor afloat hosting cocktail parties and evening ballroom dancing.
  • Theatrical facilities across the line are lavish and impressive, putting on everything from variety shows and tribute acts to West End productions and high-profile performers.
  • Some of the ship's traditional pubs put on simple evening entertainment, while bars and lounges often feature various forms of live music.

P&O Cruises

  • Features the in-house entertainment team Headliners, who perform a series of mostly polished revues and shows.
  • Dancers and judges from the "Strictly Come Dancing" show appear across the fleet on selected sailings.
  • Plenty of bars, including the Crow's Nest (with 20 different British gins) and the Glass House, with wines hand-picked by wine guru Olly Smith, and expect the likes of karaoke, quizzes and (largely sedate) discos.

arts and crafts

How well are families catered for?

Cunard Line

  • While having a more formal and 'grown up' reputation than most, the line still caters for kids of all ages.
  • QM2 and QV offer complimentary evening nurseries for parents to enjoy a meal or a show alone (though no in-cabin baby-sitting).
  • QV and QE both have The Zone, aimed at teenagers, with videogame consoles, team games and evening discos.
  • Queen Victoria offers the best family-oriented facilities, with a permanently supervised area for ages of 2 to 7.
  • Parents are encouraged to dress children smartly in some formal eateries, while too much horsing around might be frowned upon by some passengers.

Cunard Line Family Reviews

P&O Cruises

  • On the family-friendly ships, the range and quality of the children's facilities are excellent, with enthusiastic staff, outdoor space and a top-notch kids' program.
  • Tie-ins with Mr Men and Little Miss means kids get to meet Little Miss Sunshine and Mr. Bump on most cruises.
  • All the family ships have kids' pools and splash areas for the tots.
  • Family ships provide dedicated areas for family-friendly dining.
  • Also on the family ships, child-friendly movies are shown throughout the day.

P&O Family Reviews


Pricing

How does pricing compare?

Cunard Line

  • Cunard charges a minimum $11.50 per person, per day, ($13.50 per day in the Grills) while a 15 percent tip is automatically added for purchases in the bars and lounges.
  • Drinks prices are comparable to those found in London restaurants and bars.
  • Costs of internet packages are pretty high, especially considering the slow and often patchy service.

P&O Cruises

  • Although not included gratuities are fairly low at £5 ($7) per person, per day.
  • Bar prices are about the same as you'd pay on land - in some cases cheaper.