Do you fancy testing out a cruise ship holiday but the thought of committing to a week or two at sea sends shivers down your spine?
Thankfully trusted British cruise operator P&O Cruises has a range of short taster mini cruise breaks offering excellent value for money planned for 2016/2017, conveniently sailing from the port of Southampton, Hampshire.
Why choose a P&O Cruises mini cruise break?
P&O Cruises originated back in 1822 so what they don't know about cruise ships isn't worth knowing. The cruise line is fiercely proud of being rooted in Britain and on-board you can expect a reassuringly comfortable home-away-from-home atmosphere.
You'll feel you're on holiday as soon as you step aboard but you will still have all the creature comforts of home. Purchases are made in Great British Pounds, tea and coffee making facilities can be found inside each cabin and classic British dishes can be found on the restaurant menus.
Entertainment is included and there's plenty to do on-board. Children can be enrolled into the Reef Kids Club offering them a safe space to have plenty of fun, while the grown-ups can relax by the pool or indulge in a luxurious spa treatment. A gym can help burn off those extra calories from the delicious food included in the price.
A cruise ship holiday is a step up from a mini cruise aboard a ferry and the price reflects this. Even so, if you are considering booking a mini cruise but want all the facilities of a hotel resort then look no further than a P&O cruise ship.
The good and not so good
- Great way to try a cruise ship holiday without committing to a week or more.
- Sail direct from Southampton port - no flights required and no bag limits.
- A wide choice of cabins are available: value Inside cabins, Outside cabins with a sea view, Balcony cabins with a private outdoor space, and Suites for extra luxury.
- Your sailing is full board meaning your main meals and snacks are included.
The not so good
- There won't be enough time on a mini cruise to fully explore and experience the ship, leaving you wanting more.
- Drinks cost extra, as do premium dining choices and premium snacks. Complimentary drinking water and fruit juice (during breakfast hours) is available from the buffet restaurant and room service though. Drinks packages are available which may be better value depending on how much you intend to drink.
P&O Cruises has a fleet of eight ships spanning a variety of sizes.
Family friendly ships are: Britannia, Azura, Ventura, Oceana and Aurora. Britannia is the biggest and newest in the fleet. Azura and Ventura are popular ships although a bit smaller. Oceana and Aurora are smaller again. Each ship has a range of facilities to accommodate solo travellers, couples, families and groups of friends.
Here are some photos from my trip aboard the latest flagship, Britannia.
For a kid-free cruise experience look for sailings on Arcadia, Oriana and Adonia. Arcadia and Oriana are mid-sized ship and Adonia is smaller. These ships are reserved for guests aged 18+ and are popular with those travellers looking for a more grown-up cruise experience.
Mini Cruise itineraries for 2017/2018
You can find the very latest list of mini cruise itineraries here °, together with current pricing and live availability.
I've listed them below, split by ship. If you want to dip your toe into the world of cruise ship holidays then a two-night cruise is ideal. If you've been on a cruise ship holiday before, perhaps not with P&O Cruises, then a four-night sailing would give you more time to explore the ship.
Family-friendly ships: Aurora, Azura, Britannia, Oceana, and Ventura
|Date||Nights||Ship||Ports of Call||Prices|
|5 May 2017||2||Azura||Bruges||Prices °|
|19 May 2017||2||Britannia||Bruges||Prices °|
|29 May 2017||4||Aurora||Amsterdam; Bruges||Prices °|
|31 May 2017||3||Ventura||Bruges||Prices °|
|17 June 2017||6||Ventura||La Rochelle; Santander; Guernsey||Prices °|
|30 June 2017||2||Azura||Guernsey||Prices °|
|19 July 2017||6||Britannia||La Rochelle; Bilbao; Guernsey||Prices °|
|11 August 2017||4||Ventura||Guernsey; Bruges||Prices °|
|19 August 2017||2||Azura||Guernsey||Prices °|
|28 August 2017||5||Azura||Amsterdam; Le Havre||Prices °|
|2 September 2017||2||Britannia||Bruges||Prices °|
|15 September 2017||2||Ventura||Guernsey||Prices °|
|29 September 2017||2||Ventura||Bruges||Prices °|
|3 October 2017||5||Azura||Amsterdam (two nights); Le Havre||Prices °|
|20 October 2017||2||Aurora||Bruges||Prices °|
|27 October 2017||2||Ventura||Bruges||Prices °|
|10 November 2017||3||Ventura||Bruges||Prices °|
|24 November 2017||3||Ventura||Bruges||Prices °|
|15 December 2017||2||Oceana||Bruges||Prices °|
|16 December 2017||3||Aurora||Bruges||Prices °|
|29 December 2017||5||Aurora||Hamburg (overnight); Bruges||Prices °|
|29 December 2017||5||Oceana||Bruges; Amsterdam (overnight)||Prices °|
|1 February 2018||4||Ventura||Bruges; Amsterdam||Prices °|
|7 February 2018||4||Oceana||Bruges; Amsterdam||Prices °|
|23 March 2018||3||Oceana||Bruges||Prices °|
|6 April 2018||2||Britannia||Bruges||Prices °|
|27 April 2018||2||Azura||Bruges||Prices °|
|11 May 2018||2||Britannia||Bruges||Prices °|
|25 May 2018||2||Ventura||Bruges||Prices °|
|15 June 2018||2||Ventura||Guernsey||Prices °|
|30 June 2018||4||Aurora||Bruges; Amsterdam (overnight)||Prices °|
|27 July 2018||2||Ventura||Guernsey||Prices °|
|24 August 2018||2||Ventura||Guernsey||Prices °|
|14 September 2018||2||Aurora||Bruges||Prices °|
|15 September 2018||3||Ventura||Cherbourg; Le Havre||Prices °|
|28 September 2018||2||Azura||Bruges||Prices °|
|5 October 2018||3||Ventura||Bruges||Prices °|
|13 October 2018||2||Aurora||Bruges||Prices °|
|27 October 2018||2||Ventura||Bruges||Prices °|
Adults-only ships: Arcadia and Oriana
|Date||Nights||Ship||Ports of Call||Prices|
|11 May 2017||4||Oriana||Guernsey, Bruges||Prices °|
|15 May 2017||6||Oriana||La Rochelle; Santander; Guernsey||Prices °|
|7 June 2017||4||Arcadia||Guernsey; Bruges||Prices °|
|14 July 2017||2||Arcadia||Guernsey||Prices °|
|19 July 2017||4||Oriana||Le Havre; Bruges||Prices °|
|7 October 2017||4||Oriana||Amsterdam (overnight); Bruges||Prices °|
|18 November 2017||4||Arcadia||Bruges; Amsterdam||Prices °|
|1 December 2017||2||Oriana||Bruges||Prices °|
|3 December 2017||4||Oriana||Bruges; Amsterdam||Prices °|
|23 June 2018||2||Oriana||Guernsey||Prices °|
|20 July 2018||3||Oriana||Bruges; Guernsey||Prices °|
|11 August 2018||2||Oriana||Bruges||Prices °|
|31 August 2018||3||Arcadia||Cherbourg; Guernsey||Prices °|
The dull-but-necessary small print
All deals are subject to availability and can be withdrawn by the operator without prior notice. The lead-in prices (otherwise known as the 'from' prices) are, unless otherwise stated above, based on two adults sharing the cheapest available cabin on the cheapest available date. Typically the best prices are available at the start of any promotion period so the earlier you book the better choice of sailing dates and cabin availability you should have. Mid-week sail dates are likely to be cheaper than weekend sail dates.