Archive for the ‘2019 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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Burj Khalifa, Dubai, from the walkway to the Dubai Mall

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been away on holiday recently, and therefore missed the announcement of the winter 2018/2019 cruises. I’ve been catching up since I returned.

The obvious eye-catchers are Oceana’s Arabian Gulf cruises. Leaving aside the voyages out and back, the cruises all seem to be for 10 nights, start and finish in Dubai, and include 5 other ports. Abu Dhabi seems to feature on pretty much all of the cruises, while Muscat is a call on all but one of them.

This caught my eye because pretty much when these itineraries were announced I was in – Dubai. This was one of the stops on my recent holiday which was mainly to Singapore. As my flights were via Dubai I took the opportunity to have a couple of nights there on the way home.

I’ll be honest, I came away from Dubai with mixed feelings. I think it’s a very strange place. I visited the Dubai Museum, walked around the Batakia preserved district, and visited the Dubai Mall. It was the museum that left the strongest impression one me. Filled with very effective and evocative displays and descriptions of old Dubai and the Bedouin way of life, I felt that the subconscious message was “This is how we were then – look at what we’ve lost!”. (In contrast, Singapore’s National Museum seemed to be saying “This is how we were then – look at what we’ve achieved!”)

At least in January to March the weather should be kind. ‘Average High’ temperatures should be in the mid- to high-20s (ºC), although the ‘record high’ in March is just over 40ºC – hopefully, no new records will be set during Oceana’s calls. In any case, it should be cooler than in mid summer, when the ‘average high’ goes into the 40s ºC, and the record high is high 40’s. At least it’s a dry heat – although I enjoyed Singapore more in terms of attractions and general life, I have to admit I found the heat in Dubai much easier to take, even though temperatures were about the same (30ºC or just over).

Is there enough to do at these ports on a 10-night cruise in the Gulf? I think there will be attractions in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Muscat, but I’m not sure about the other places. There again, P&O wouldn’t take people to places where there was nothing to do … or would they? Perhaps I need to do some more research.

However, I do think that P&O can take credit for coming up with these innovative itineraries. It will be interesting to find out just how popular they are.

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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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