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P & O History


In the 1880s the Orient Line and the North of Scotland company pioneered modern-style cruises. In 1904 P&O Cruises offered its first cruise holiday programme, which was a first class only cruise with shore excursions arranged by Thomas Cook Travel Agency. The tour used a 23-year-old liner Rome, renaming her ‘Vectis’ in her new role as a "cruising yacht."

Between the wars cruising became more popular, often using the newest ships in the fleet rather than the oldest. Tourist class cruises began in the early 1930s followed by Pacific cruises from Australia a few years later.

With no rigid mail contracts after 1945, cruising became still more important to the shipping industry. P&O Cruises last ship built for scheduled line voyages, Canberra, was delivered in 1961 but in little more than a decade jet airlines had taken over the company's traditional passenger trades while the container ship packed up liner cargoes.
Successful Expansion

Forced to concentrate on the leisure side of sea travel, P&O Cruises abolished passenger classes, acquired Los Angeles-based Princess Cruises in 1974, and Sitmar Cruises in 1988. Sitmar cruises was then merged with Princess Cruises. Since the beginning of the 1990s, Princess Cruises has embarked on a policy of growth through building new ships, bought and later built purpose-designed cruise ships and became one of the largest cruise operators in the world.

P&O Princess Cruises demerged from the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company on 23 October 2000 when it started trading as an independent company on the London and New York Stock Exchanges.

In April 2004 P&O Princess plc, the parent company of P&O Cruises, joined together with Carnival Corporation, bringing together two of the best known and most successful organisations in the cruise industry. Already Britain’s market leading cruise company, P&O Cruises is now part of one of the world’s largest leisure travel companies.


I wonder if anyone out there knows anything about SS Ranchi I am particularly interested in the voyage it took from Tilbury leaving on 6the February 1952. This was the day the king died. I have been searching for a way to obtain the information which would be in the ships log.