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Some news from P&O late last week. On Friday this press release was issued:-

From 30 November 2011, Oriana will become exclusively for adults.

When Artemis leaves the fleet next May the number of holidays exclusively for adults available within the P&O Cruises programme will be effectively reduced as Adonia, her replacement, is a smaller ship. We therefore wish to add a third ship to offer this type of holiday. We feel we can do this as Azura, the most recent ship to be added to our fleet provides additional holidays for families.

P&O Cruises have seven ships in our fleet and after November 30 2011 four will continue to welcome families (Aurora, Azura, Oceana and Ventura) and three, (Adonia, Arcadia and Oriana) will be exclusively for adults. We are totally committed to satisfying the holiday needs of both families and those travelling without children.


I think that’s an interesting decision. I think this is largely a defensive move, from the perspective of both family cruising and also for cruise traditionalists. In an era when there are ships like Independence of the Seas sailing out of Southampton (and Oasis and Allure of the Seas in Florida) as well as P&O’s own Ventura, it must be hard trying to market Oriana as a family holiday ship. When Oriana was launched in the mid-90s she was pretty much state of the art in many ways, but she’s slipped behind the curve now. I don’t know from experience how good the children’s facilities are on Oriana but I would imagine that they’re not as good as on a new ship such as Ventura. Then there’s the appeal to the traditionalists, because it looks  they’re positioning Oriana as very much a traditionalist’s cruise ship. I think it always did appeal to them – Oriana was a recreation of Canberra with (mid-90s) up-to-date facilities – but as the years have gone by Oriana is looking slightly lacking. For example, she has few balconies and most of her cabins are a tad smaller than is the norm in more modern ships. I know that we would be reluctant to return to Oriana, having cruised and enjoyed the facilities on Ventura. There is one group however who don’t seek the latest facilities and that’s the traditionalists, and I think that Oriana will now be perfect for them.

Does this mean that P&O will be splitting the fleet more definitely into a formal line (Oriana, Arcadia & Adonia) and an informal line (the rest)? Well, it’s possible, but I don’t think so. I think the formal approach is dear to P&O’s heart; I think it’s one of the things that connects them with their own history. In any case, I have a feeling that a simple ‘family ship = informal ship’ equation is too simplistic. I have a feeling that it might be ships like Adonia or Arcadia that might the ones to go less formal. Not in a truly casual manner, more in a ‘country-club casual’ style. I think this is especially true of Adonia, since she was designed originally for just such a cruising style, and these are the policies in force on her sister ships currently with Oceania and Azamara.

And finally, I wonder what P&O will do with the areas on Oriana that are currently given over to children’s provision. These are all on D deck, aft, immediately forward of the Terrace pool and open deck area. There’s quite a lot of space there that could be used for something quite interesting. Another speciality restaurant? A seriously sophisticated bar, opening out onto the deck? We’ll learn more in due course, we’re told. One thing, though: at the moment Oriana’s refit is due to last just just 14 days, from 16 November to 30 November (2011). I’m not sure how much major work they could do to these areas in that time.


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