The History of Cruise Ships: Then and Now

History |

Where It All Started: The P&O Company

Wikipedia

Before we compare the crazy difference between past and present cruising, it’s important to look back at where it all started. The birth of leisure cruising began in 1822 with the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company, which started out as a shipping line with routes between England and the Iberian Peninsula. It was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1840 and after a few years…

They first introduced passenger cruising services in 1844, advertising sea tours to destinations such as Gibraltar, Malta and Athens, sailing from Southampton. The forerunner of modern cruise holidays, these voyages were the first of their kind, and P&O is still recognized as the world’s oldest cruise line. They eventually expanded, commissioning larger and more luxurious ships to serve the steadily expanding market…

The ship above is a P&O steamer in Venice circa 1870. Notable ships of the era include the SS Ravenna, the first built with a total steel superstructure, and the SS Valetta, the first to use electric lights. Some say the very first cruise ship is the Francesco I, which was boarded by nobles, authorities, and royal princes who enjoyed excursions and guided tours, dancing, card tables on the deck and parties on board. By the turn of the century…


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