Both P&O and Cunard published their Summer 2018 schedules early this month, and have been taking bookings for the last week or so. (I did a post about the schedules just after they were announced.) At first I was pleased that we had this advance notice – we could finally book a cruise more than two years in advance! – but I’ve now begun to feel that it isn’t such a good idea. Val put it this way when we were talking about it earlier today: “I feel like I’m being pressured into booking a cruise earlier than I really want to”, and I share her feeling. So what’s brought this on?

We looked through the brochure when it arrived and selected a cruise that interested us. Val’s diary and itineraries are very uncertain that far ahead – we’re not even certain that she’ll still be working then – and in any case we perhaps want to have several shorter holidays that year rather than one longer one. So we were principally looking at 7-night cruises and A813 caught our attention. It starts in late May 2018, and includes calls at Hamburg (a new port for us), Amsterdam (with an overnight stay in port) and Le Havre. Then we looked at the offers. As previous customers we’d get an early booking discount of 10% and the deposit would only be 5% (of the undiscounted price) instead of the normal 15%. Those offers will be available until the end of November.

But – do we want to commit ourselves to that cruise so far in advance? And crucially, do we want to do so before we can have a look at other lines’ competing offers? At the moment the only lines that we know about for summer 2018 are P&O and Cunard, but before we make a definite choice we’d really like to see what itineraries Celebrity and Fred. Olsen will be offering, and perhaps other lines as well. Yet we feel pressurised into making that early booking – if we leave it until after November we’ll lose the early booking discount. It is perfectly possible that there will be other offers in place of that discount – increased OBC, perhaps – but we don’t know that for certain. We definitely expect that the reduced deposit requirement will certainly vanish, to be replaced by the normal 15%. Having paid a deposit three times greater than it would have been would make a cruise that we booked that much harder to walk away from if plans or circumstances change.

I can certainly see why P&O are doing this – not only will they be getting the early deposit payments and the commitment, but they’ll also be freezing the other lines out – but as I said we feel pressured into making a booking far earlier than we really want to.

How do other people feel about this?

Fathom shifting?

I’ve done a few posts about Fathom, Carnival Corp’s new ‘culturally immersive’ cruise line. They’ve been operating since the spring or early summer, doing alternating week-long cruises to the Dominican Republic and Cuba.

I had become aware that there were some extremely good offers for Dominican Republic cruises. Now Carnival Corp has announced two additional sailings to Cuba in October and November, presumably with equivalent cancellation of planned sailings to the Dominican Republic.

The press release refers to “strong pent-up demand” by passengers for cruises to Cuba. Perhaps Fathom has found its market after all, except that it’s based on Cuban-Americans checking out the old homestead rather than passengers wanting to give something back in the Dominican Republic? How long before Adonia is replaced with something bigger, I wonder? And if that happens, could Adonia return to P&O? The response to the announcement of the new ship that P&O will be getting in 2020 was generally along the lines of “Too big! Bring back Adonia!”

Here’s a link to the press release.

More on P&O’s new ship

Well, a bit more, gleaned from previous press releases.

First, the new P&O ship was one of three announced on 6 September. Two will be for Carnival Cruise Line and the third will be for P&O. They’ll all be built by Meyer, the German shipbuilding company; two at their traditional shipyard at Papenburg (in Germany) and the other one at the Turku shipyard in Finland that Meyer bought not too long ago.

What we know about these three ships specifically is that they’ll be 180,000 tons; they’ll hold 5,200 passengers normally and up to 6,600 with all berths occupied; and they’ll be propelled by LNG fuel.

In turns out that these aren’t the first such ships that Carnival Corp has ordered. A bit more than a year ago I did a post about an order for four new ships from Meyer for Carnival Corp, two for Costa and two for AIDA. These ships were specified as being 180,000 tons, being LNG propelled, and having a normal capacity of 5,200 passengers and a maximum capacity of 6,600. Sound familiar? To me it seems that the three ship orders just announced amount to another three of the same general class – they’ll all be the same size, have the same propulsion system, and the same passenger capacity. They’ll be spread around Carnival’s lines in the following way: two for Carnival Cruise line itself, two for Costa, two for AIDA and the seventh for P&O. It’s interesting that Carnival Corp is standardising in this way: while Carnival Cruise line and Costa have frequently had very similar ships, up until now AIDA has had its own unique ships while P&O has generally shared ship designs with Princess – Oceana, Ventura, Azura and Britannia all have sisters (or near sisters) in the Princess fleet.

There’s been a lot of comment about the size of these ships. In a post I did over a year ago I extracted this quote about the capacity of these big new ships: “a major part of the innovative design involves making much more efficient use of the ship’s spaces, creating an enhanced onboard experience for guests“. We still wait to see what those design innovations will be.

Finally, there’s something hidden in the detail of the scheduling of these new builds. A year ago it was announced that the four ships in the first order would be delivered in 2019 and 2020. It’s now said (in the Carnival Corp press release) that the delivery date for the P&O ship will be 2020, and that the dates for the Carnival Cruise line pair will be 2020 and 2022. It’s also stated that “…the delivery dates for the new builds for Germany-based AIDA Cruises and Italy-based Costa Cruises for 2020 will shift to 2021….“. I think that this means that Costa and AIDA will each get their first ship in 2019, as originally planned; that the next pair, originally intended to be those lines’ second ships, will instead go to P&O and Carnival Cruise line in 2020; that Costa and AIDA will then get their second ships in 2021, and that these are the first ships of the new order; and that Carnival Cruise line will get its second ship in 2022.

Here are some links. First, to a post I did a year or so ago about the order for the first four of these ships; next a link to the Carnival Corp press release about the current order; and finally a link to a post by a publication, also about the new order.

I’ve just read that Carnival Corp have placed an order with Meyer for three new 180,000 ton ships, all of them LNG fuelled. Two are for Carnival Cruises, but the third is stated to be for P&O UK. Delivery not before 2020. Here’s a link to the Press Release page on the Carnival Corp site.

More info as I get it….

As far as I can see, there’s only one cruise starting between 1 April 2018 and 30 October 2018 that’s listed as a Peninsular Club cruise. That’s cruise R807 on Aurora, starting on 19 May, to Russia and Scandinavia for 16 nights. In contrast, when the 2017 schedules were published there were 8 Peninsular Cruises listed in the brochure for summer 2017. However, I also see that some of those cruises are no longer listed as such on the P&O website; e.g. A716 (which we’ve booked), 14 nights to Norway, Iceland, The Faroe Islands and Northern Ireland, is definitely described as a Peninsular Club cruise in the published brochure (April 2016 – March 2018) but no longer appears as such on the website. So maybe P&O change that status of these cruises over time.

It’s also the case that none of the summer 2018 cruises just announced are shown as being ‘Strictly’ cruises. Maybe that promotion will come later….

I’ve had a chance to take a quick look at the schedule and here are my thoughts based on that – I haven’t (yet) done the sort of detailed analysis I did for 2017.

The first thing to say is that broadly the mix looks pretty much the same as it does for 2017. And why would we expect anything different? But here are some details, as far as I can see them: Continue Reading »

P&O have just put their Summer 2018 schedule up on their website. I haven’t had the time for a real look yet, but all of the ships are there. Note also that there is no reappearance of Adonia.

I’ll have a more detailed look later, but doing a search of cruises starting between 1 May 2018 and 30 September 2018 returns details of 131 cruises. There also seem to be some introductory offers – 10% early booking discount (book by 1 November this year) and a 5% deposit (again, time-limited).