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Reproduced courtesy of P&O Heritage

P&O menu card titled 'Posh', from a series themed 'Nautical Expressions'

Date: 1940-1970
Height: 255 mm, width: 355 mm
Medium: Paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Christopher Beazley
Object Copyright: © P&O Heritage
Object Name: Menu
Object No: 00049800

User Terms

    P&O menu card from a series based on 'Nautical Expressions', designed by G. Thompson and printed by Charles & Read Ltd. The card features an illustration of a group of passengers all gathered on the shady side of a ship's deck. Text on the side titled 'Posh' provides an explanation of this nautical term.
    SignificanceShipboard menus such as these were often printed to be souvenirs and were collected as mementos of what for many people were 'once in a lifetime' voyages. Many shipping companies produced their own series of collectable menus with themes such as exotic destinations, historic events or, as in this case, nautical terminology.
    HistoryThe text on this menu card offers the explanation that the word 'Posh' originates from P&O's nickname for the preferred cabins onboard - 'Port Out Starboard Home' (POSH) on the voyage to India. Cabins on the port side of a vessel on the outward journey were favoured as they did not become unsufferably hot in the afternoon sun, while the situation was reversed on the homeward journey and the starboard side cabins were cooler and more comfortable.

    By the 1960s the stately passenger cruises of the 1920s to 1950s were in decline due to increased airtravel. However in the early 1970s, the passenger cruise lines transformed the cruising experience to attract a new market. In 1974, the Cunard Line Queen Elizabeth II hired international celebrities to perform cabaret acts aboard ship.

    The QE2 ushered in the concept of 'one-class' cruising, as the ship's facilities and amenities were made available to all passengers. Regardless of the staterooms or berths passengers had booked, they enjoyed the same service, menus, entertainment, and activities. People began taking cruises for short vacations, rather than solely as a means of transportation. Some argue the 1970s television series the Love Boat also had an impact.

    In the 1980s cruise lines began launching giant passenger liners, some capable of carrying over 2,000 people. These vessels were designed as all-inclusive magnificent floating hotels with casinos, running tracks, spas, champagne and caviar bars, basketball courts, private stateroom verandahs, and three-story nightclubs. Ports of call were not the main reason for cruising anymore as people became interested in the whole experience of just being on board. Cruise Lines actively marketed their shipboard experiences rather than destinations. The message was 'luxury for the masses'.

    Souvenirs had always been an important part of the cruise experience, and many items issued to passengers such as menus, destination cards, cocktail stirrers and match boxes were kept as momentos of what for many people were 'once in a lifetime' voyages, often honeymoons or romantic cruises.

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