All seven ships in the P&O Cruises fleet are to dock together for the first time in Southampton next year. The vessels will come together in their home port for The Grand Event on July 3, 2012 as part of a year of celebrations in 2012.

The company will be marking the 175th anniversary of the Peninsular Steam Navigation Company being awarded the Admiralty contract to carry mail to the Iberian Peninsula and beyond.

Following the event in the port, each ship will depart on its own Grand Event cruise, forming a procession as they leave Southampton. Once in the open water, the ships will meet again, saluting one another before they sail to their various destinations.

The seven cruises will be heritage themed with special on board entertainment including a 175th Anniversary Gala dinner, heritage art display and guest speakers. A full world cruise prize draw will be held on each cruise and a total of seven passengers plus guests will be travelling in 2013. They are detailed in the company’s 2012-13 brochure which goes on sale on April 5.

The Grand Event Cruises are:

• An 11-night Atlantic Islands cruise on Azura starting at £1,149
• A 17-night Central Mediterranean cruise on Ventura starting at £1,699
• A seven-night Norwegian Fjords cruise on Oceana starting at £749
• A 14-night Norway and Iceland cruise on Arcadia starting at £1,549
• A17-night Baltic cruise on Aurora starting at £1,749
• A four-night cruise break on Oriana starting at £399
• A 21-night Central Mediterranean cruise on Adonia starting at £2,349

P&O Cruises’ managing director Carol Marlow said: “We are very excited to announce this special day. It will be a great celebration for P&O Cruises, our passengers and for the whole maritime world.

“Whereas the very first P&O ships plied their trades to the Iberian Peninsular and the Orient, P&O Cruises ships sail throughout Europe, the Caribbean, South America, Scandinavia, Mediterranean, Atlantic islands and on round the world cruises. What was once a national necessity is now a national pastime and is worthy of a grand celebration.”