Archive for the ‘2018 Schedules’ Category

Carnival Corporation have just announced that Majestic Princess, the third and most recent ship in the Royal Princess class (OK, fourth if you count Britannia) will spend the ‘Austral Summer’ season, from September 2018 to March 2019, home-ported in Sydney. That’s a bit of a surprise because Majestic Princess has been touted as Carnival Corporation’s biggest-yet commitment to the Chinese market.

Majestic Princess was delivered to Princess Cruises earlier this month, and is currently on her maiden voyage (from Civitavecchia back to Civitavecchia). Then she’s set to do a short Mediterranean season before starting a 56-night voyage from Barcelona to Shanghai on 21 May and arriving at Shanghai on 9 July. On the way she’ll call at Dubai, Cochin, Colombo, Penang, Singapore, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh city, Hong Kong, and several ports in Japan, plus other ports too numerous to mention.

Interestingly you can’t search for any more Majestic Princess cruises on the Princess website after that date (July 2017). I assume that she will be spending the next year-and-a-bit cruising from Shanghai, on itineraries that aren’t bookable from the main Princess website. If so she will certainly be spending the first winter (2017/18) sailing out of China, but not her second – that’s when she’ll be undertaking these voyages out of Sydney. Is it possible that bookings for the first winter aren’t meeting expectations?

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There are posts flying around this morning from all the usual cruise TAs announcing that P&O and Cunard will be revealing their winter 2018/19 schedules shortly. The timetable seems to be as follows:

  • 13 March: Schedules revealed and ‘pre-registration’ available, for both lines;
  • 23 March: Bookings open for P&O loyalty club Caribbean, Baltic and Ligurian tier members;
  • 27 March: General P&O bookings open for Winter 2018/19 cruises (not 2019 World cruises);
  • 28 March: Bookings open for Cunard World Club members, for both winter cruises and 2019 World cruises;
  • 29 March: General Cunard bookings for all cruises;
  • 30 March: Bookimgs open for P&O 2019 World cruises.

If I learn anything more before those dates I’ll post it here (although I will be away from 6 to 17 March).

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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?

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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.┬áIn 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….

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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: (more…)

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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).

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As an update to yesterday’s post, I see that the teaser page now reads “You can register your interest in the holiday of your choice from 5 September 2016” and obviously the information has got to be available in order for you to do that! So it looks as if the details of the Summer 2018 schedules will be published on Monday (the 5th) at the latest, and possibly even over this weekend.

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