Although I’m a fairly recent cruiser, it could easily be said that I’m now a student of the P&O Cruises beer menu and this is something I’ll return to regularly as there is plenty that I have to share.
Having dipped my toe into cruising in about 2010 with a couple of Thomson fly cruises around the Med and the Canaries, the most underwhelming aspect of those cruises was the on-board beer list – an industrial lager such as San Miguel, a draught John Smith Smooth (or similar) and a short list of other “International” lagers, mostly UK brewed, and which to my palate taste pretty much the same (call me a beer snob if you must). It is fair to say that most of my beer hunting was done ashore on those trips.
It was little things on the P&O list that attracted me on my first cruise with them in the Summer of 2013, not exactly the most trendy of modern craft beers but bottles of Fullers London Pride and Ringwood Old Thumper were tasty welcome additions to the lazier of menus.
However, the game changer for P&O was the launch of their biggest ship in the Spring of 2015. At that time P&O, having patriotically named their new ship Britannia, took the marketing decision to rebrand completely celebrating its British heritage – a paint job with a large Union Flag on the bow of each ship and easily identifiable blue funnels. (A no brainer really given that the majority of P&O cruise customers are British; the ship’s currency is GBP; prawn cocktail, tomato soup, sirloin steak and baked Alaska are the mainstays of the dining menu and afternoon tea is a favourite).
Each P&O ship has a British pub as one of its bars and at this time a bright spark in the beverage department in the Southampton HQ suggested that the pub on board Britannia, Brodie’s Bar, should have a beer from each county of the United Kingdom. Miraculously, over 70 choices of beer (and cider) appeared on-board, the largest selection of bottled British beers at sea.
I assume this was met with approval and approbation from the cruising beer drinkers as the idea was quickly rolled out across the fleet. A smaller range of about 20 British bottled beers was quickly championed on all of the ships together with tasting flights of 3 * third pints of various ones.
One of those beer was Thornbridge Jaipur, an award winning, American IPA style beer, rammed with hops with delicious citrus flavours and extremely more-ish. It is an absolute favourite, go-to beer for me and my delight in being able to drink that beer on a cruise was palpable.
These special beers are only in the pubs onboard so a trip there before going on to one of the other entertainment bars was an effort (sic) so I was delighted when, on a subsequent cruise, I noticed that Jaipur had been added to the beer menu in all of the on-board bars and lounges. (I had suggested on my end of cruise questionnaire that they should roll out Jaipur to all of the bars so I’m taking a little credit for this. I guess others felt the same.)
Jaipur in all of P&O bars – imagine that in 2013 !
So there you have it. I wouldn’t necessarily say “I’m only here for the beer”, P&O has more to offer than that. However, they are currently my chosen cruise line and it’s mainly because a simple soul like me loves the Jaipur ! (oh, and the Jarl, the Punk and the Yorkshire Pride)
A few notes :
Beer prices on P&O cruises are in £ and similar to UK pub prices – no service charge is added.
The P&O beer list sample can be found here.
The beer list on their smallest ship Adonia does not match up – I guess they have no room nor demand for a more extensive range of beers.
The pubs on board P&O Cruise ships are usually called Brodie’s or Andersen’s Bars – more later.
I now understand that there might even be real ale served on board Oriana – more about this another time.
Don’t get me started on the Thornbridge decision to move from 50cl bottles to 33cl to prove their “craft” credentials nor the pricing issues that surround that. It remains my go-to beer on the ship(s).
I have not yet been lucky enough to travel on Britannia but hope to rectify that in 2018.
See also my future posts as I work my way through the P&O Cruises beer list :