‘Vectis…has been specially fitted up as a yacht to carry about 150 passengers, and will, in future, be regularly employed on those Pleasure Cruises which have become popular in combining the most delightful Holiday Excursions, with the benefit of sea air, under the most luxurious conditions.' P&O Brochure, 1904
In 1904 P&O launched its first season of ‘pleasure cruises’. The health benefits of sea travel and the notion of voyaging for pleasure were much in vogue. Tours in the Mediterranean and the Baltic were well established and it made sense for P&O to take advantage of the ‘off-season’ when passenger numbers on the mail steamers dropped dramatically.
To start the new service, the redundant mail steamer Rome (first launched in 1881) was refitted as a ‘cruising yacht’ and renamed Vectis.
‘It will not be out of place to give a few particulars about this beautiful ship…The company has, at great expense, turned her into one of the most comfortable yachts afloat; there are beautiful drawing and lounge rooms, the finest smoking room we have ever seen, and the dining saloon is splendidly situated...’
Edward Rawdin, Three Months in the Mediterranean: Notes on a Cruise in the P&O Company’s Steam Yacht ‘Vectis’, London, 1910sContinue reading →
In addition to Vectis, new mail steamers Salsette and Malwa took their turn at cruising during the short summer season.
Cruises were a useful addition to the Company’s activities. But initial returns were low and it would be many years before, there were real profits to be had from travelling for pleasure.