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P&O Ferries and P&O Cruises – How Are They Linked? (Ownership, Name, and History)

If you are taking a cruise with P&O cruises or planning a trip on a P&O ferry you may be wondering if the two companies are linked. It’s more complicated than it first appears.

If you’d prefer to watch than read, check out the video I made on this subject here: Emma Cruises YouTube Channel.

Are P&O Cruises and P&O Ferries Linked?

There is currently no link between P&O Cruises and P&O Ferries. Both companies are owned by different larger companies and are operated separately. P&O Cruises is owned by Carnival Corporation based in the USA and P&O Ferries is owned by DP World based in Dubai.

FoundedOwned By
P&O Ferries2002DP World (Dubai)
P&O Cruises1977Carnival Corporation

The below photo shows me with a P&O Cruises cruise ship. P&O’s cruise ships have distinctive union jack artwork on the hull.

emma cruises with p&o iona

The ferries from P&O Ferries are much much smaller and don’t have this design.

To learn more about the differences between ferries and cruise ships, check out this post: 5 HUGE Differences Between a Ferry and a Cruise Ship (Real Examples)

Who Are P&O Ferries?

P&O Ferries are a British company whose headquarters is in Dover, UK. They have 20 ships and regularly sail across the English channel, north sea, and Irish sea transporting both passengers, car, and freight.

Customers: 10 Million Passengers Per Year
Cars: 1.6 Million

P&O Ferries are owned by the P&O Group which also owns P&O Group Travel, P&O Freight, P&O Ferrymasters, and P&O Heritage.

Pride of Burgundy – P&O – leaving the Port of Dover. © Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Who Are P&O Cruises?

P&O Cruises are a British cruise line whose headquarters is in Southampton, UK. They have 7 ships and sail all over the world providing cruise vacations to passengers. P&O Cruises has roughly a 2% market share of all cruise passengers.

Passengers: 241,000 (During 2021, Sailing at Reduced Capacity)

P&O Cruises are owned by Carnival Corporation, the largest cruise company in the world.

Carnival Corporation also owns the following cruise lines:

  • Carnival Cruise Line
  • Princess Cruises
  • Costa Cruises
  • AIDA Cruises
  • Holland America
  • Cunard Cruise Line
  • P&O Cruises Australia
  • Seabourn

To find out what it’s like to cruise with P&O, check out my review of my cruise on board P&O’s Ventura (we had the worst weather I’ve ever experienced on a cruise): P&O Ventura – Christmas Cruise Review (Entertainment, Ship, Food & More)

Who Were The P&O Group?

In 1835 the Peninsular Steam Navigation Company was founded. In 1840 they began sailing to Asia and so reconstituted the company as Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company.

In 1918 the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company bought 51% of the Oriental Line. The two brands weren’t merged at this point but did later in the 1960s merge forming the P&O Orient Line.

In the 1960s the ferry services mentioned above started.

In the 1970s P&O Bought Princess Cruises and then in 1988 P&O bought Sitmar cruises allowing them to expand into Australia. They renamed this company P&O Holidays which was later P&O Australia.

Before the year 2000, the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company had P&O Cruises in the UK, P&O Australia, and the ferry division. In 2000 they decided to separate the cruise portion out and they formed P&O Princess.

This was its own company.

In 2003 the Carnival Corportation bought P&O Princess for 3.5 billion pounds.

The below table shows a brief outside of the history of P&O Cruises. The most important thing for the purposes of this article is that the company was taken over by Carnival Corporation in 2003.

To learn more about the history of P&O Cruises I recommend checking out this brilliant book from maritime historian Chis Frame. You can get it here (affiliate links): UK, USA.

P&O Ferries – Timeline

The below table shows a brief outline of the history of P&O Ferries.
The most important thing for the purposes of this article is that the company was sold in 2006 to DP World.

P&O Ferries History
1960sEstablished by P&O
1980sCross Channel Ferries Sold to European Ferries (Later Renamed)
1990sP&O European Ferries split into 3 Parts
2006P&O Group Sold to DP World (Later Dubai World)

Why Are P&O Ferries and P&O Cruises Both Called ‘P&O’?

The ‘P&O’ in both companies’ names comes from the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company. P&O Ferries and P&O Cruises were created by the P&O Group. They have since been sold to other companies but have kept their name and branding.

This caused problems for P&O Cruises in 2022 when passengers wrongly assumed that P&O Cruises were related to P&O Ferries.

P&O Ferries made 800 of their workers redundant without warning. A move that was completely unrelated to P&O Cruises but they received much of the backlash.

Cruising With P&O Cruises

I have taken multiple cruises with P&O Cruises, cruising onboard P&O’s Iona, Ventura and Britannia. P&O provides brilliant value for money and as a result, I often recommend them to families and groups.

To find out how my cruise went onboard P&O’s Iona, check out this video:

Free Insiders Cruise Line Guide

Ever wondered how the mainstream cruise lines compare? Cruise lines won’t tell you this, but I will.

This FREE guide shows you everything you need to know to find your perfect cruise line.