The addition of P&O Cruises new 180,000 GT ship, scheduled for delivery in 2020, has taken many by surprise. Not at the actual announcement of a new ship, but because of the size and capacity of it. The new addition will be able to accommodate 5,200 passengers, almost 1,500 more than their current largest ship, Britannia.
So, the question that many people are currently asking is, what does the future hold for P&O Cruises, and in particular the likes of Oriana, Aurora and Oceana?
Oriana is currently the oldest ship in the fleet after joining in 1995. P&O still sees some future in her, as she will be heading into drydock this November for a major refurbishment. But, by 2020, she will be 25-years-old and suggestions and rumours by cruise ship enthusiasts suggest that P&O may look to sell at least one ship when its new flagship has joined the fleet.
Her fellow fleetmates, Aurora and Oceana could also be under threat. Aurora will be 20-years-old in 2020 and Oceana will be 18. So with the 5,200 capacity of the new ship, it maybe prudent of P&O Cruises to sell at least one of the three older ships.
Oriana, Aurora and Oceana are no doubt very popular. They have a very loyal following indeed and they do represent (Oriana and Aurora in particular) the old connections with P&O Cruises before the merger with Carnival in the early 2000s. Classic and traditional, yet contemporary, Oriana and Aurora are regarded as two of the best looking cruise ships afloat, compared to some ships that are considered by some as ‘floating blocks of flats’.
However that maybe, sentimentality doesn’t really have a place in the cruise industry anymore. Economically and environmentally, cruise lines are relying on scales of economies when it comes to building new ships. It would seem more profitable to build larger ships, instead of a series of smaller ships. New greener, and cleaner fuels such as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), of which the new P&O ship will be powered by, are the next generation of fuel for the new generation of ships.
So could this spell the end of the line for the likes of Oriana, Aurora and Oceana for P&O? Well, time will tell, but if they should leave the fleet, surely there would be willing suitors to give them a new lease of life?
Cruise and Maritime Voyages have taken on ex-Carnival Holiday, renamed Magellan, and will next year take delivery of Columbus, currently Pacific Pearl for P&O Cruises Australia, which has previously sailed with P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises. They are a cruise line which are showing ambition and perhaps would be a suitable option for the likes of Oriana, Aurora or Oceana. Another option would be Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, and with an ageing fleet, some suggest that they would be looking to purchase a second hand ship or build a new ship in the foreseeable future, but of course it is all speculation.
2017 sees P&O Cruises celebrate its 180th anniversary and judging by its recent announcement for a new ship, the future for ‘Britain’s Favourite Cruise Line’ certainly looks bright.