HOW IT ALL BEGAN looks at new books that give vivid accounts of how two cruise companies developed into major players on the international cruise scene.

P&O’s illustrious history is revealed through hundreds of rare photographs in A Photographic History of P&O Cruises, written by historians Rob Henderson, Doug Cremer, Rachelle Cross and Chris Frame.

An historic photograph on the cover of a new book that paints a colourful picture of P&O Cruises evolving history.
An historic photograph on the cover of a new book paints a colourful picture of P&O Cruises evolving Australia.

At the launch, Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry – P&O Cruises is part of that multi-layered companysaid that for more than 150 years P&O had been at the forefront of nation building in Australia.

“Whether it’s the mail steamers of the nineteenth century, the birth of Australian cruising in 1932, the assisted passage scheme that brought a million ‘ten pound Poms‘ to these shores, or contemporary cruising, P&O has always been in the thick of it – and leading it more often than not,” Ms Sherry said.

At the same time, Pandaw Cruises has also released The Pandaw Story that gives insights into the trials and tribulations of doing business in Burma (also known as Myanmar) and South East Asia.

The book is written by Paul Strachan, who in 1995 invited a group of adventurers to join him in an untried new boat to take foreign tourists up Burma’s Irrawaddy River for the first time since the Second World War. (Burma was an outpost of the British Raj until Independence in 1948)

That first post-war cruise Irrawaddy cruise was a huge success, word spread, and before Strachan knew it he was running the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company, now known as Pandaw Cruises.

Strachan mixes autobiography, colourful travelogue and company history in a lively account of one of the most unlikely successes in today’s travel industry.

The book also looks beyond Burma, at projects in Vietnam, Cambodia, India and Malaysia, where the company met with many challenges before becoming the largest river cruise fleet in South-East Asia with 14 ships in four countries.

The books are available from 


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