I’ve had a bit more opportunity to look through P&O’s just-announced programme for summer 2015. What seems clear to me is that there’s a bit of a divide opening up – prices on Britannia, Ventura and Azura seem to be noticeably lower than prices on the rest of the fleet.
Oriana and Aurora definitely seem to be the most expensive. I’ve looked at a couple of Mediterannean cruises for mid-June 2015, 14 nights on Azura and 17 nights on Aurora, and in each case have compared the prices for a balcony cabin. On Azura that balcony cabin will cost about £125 per person per night, while on Aurora it’s around £170 per person. And of course the cabin on Azura is bigger than the one on Aurora. Changing the Aurora selection to a Deluxe Balcony cabin, which is bigger and which also has an open balcony (similar to the one Azura) the price goes up to almost £200 per person per night. Prices on Arcadia are very similar to those on Oriana and Aurora (perhaps a little bit lower), while prices on Adonia may be a bit lower still – perhaps around £160 per per per night. I haven’t really looked at Oceana prices, as they seem to include air fare – I’m not sure if they can be booked cruise-only.
What’s intriguing is why this is happening. It could be deliberate policy – is it assumed, I wonder, that passengers on these ships are all rich retirees? – three of the four are adult-only. Or could it be that Aurora and Oriana, the oldest ships in the fleet, are indeed more expensive to operate, per passenger?
Christopher Edgington, Carnival UK’s Marketing director, has made some statements about the prices. Not too surprisingly he’s concentrating on the positive side:
“We have reduced the prices on 100 cruises in this new brochure. We want to give our passengers the best value possible and we wanted our prices to be more aligned with the market. Passengers need to book early to make sure they get the best price possible, and this needs to be reinforced. In the past the industry has gone from high to low when it comes to pricing and with this change we are looking to go from low to high.“
I’m certainly happy with the prices on Azura and Ventura; indeed, we already have our eyes on a cruise on Azura.