Archive for the ‘P&O’ Category

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’s a press release on the relevant Carnival Corp. webpage that announces that for Adonia’s 2017/18 Caribbean season – that is, next winter – P&O have contracted with Virgin Atlantic to provide the flights from Manchester and Heathrow to Barbados, and some seats in existing (public) flights from Gatwick. Here’s a link to the relevant page.

I gather that using a carrier other than Thomas Cook or Thomson for these Caribbean cruise flights is quite unusual. It’s not clear what the reason is for the decision – it could be that Virgin Atlantic came in with a great bid, or perhaps the regular airlines had no capacity available. Following her announced release from Fathom, Adonia’s Caribbean programme has been arranged at short notice and later than that for other ships.

While Virgin Atlantic gets a general thumbs-up, one person who commented on this pointed out that on a flight (non-cruise, I believe) to Barbados with Virgin Atlantic a few years ago, the aircraft used was older and not comparable with Virgin Atlantic services to Miami and New York. We’ll know more by this time next year!

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This may well be old news, but here’s a link to a page on the P&O website showing some results of Oriana’s recent refit. I must say, the results do look attractive. I could feel tempted…

Of course, she’s been back in service for about month now, and has completed a couple of cruises in that time. If any of my readers has been on her since the refit I’d love to hear your reactions. Pictures, too, please.

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Oriana in the Elbe on a murky afternoon

Well, I was a few minutes too late to grab good webcam shots of Oriana leaving Hamburg – the one above is the best I could manage. But the important thing is that she is on her way back to Southampton where she’s expected just after midnight on the 15th so her two-night cruise starting on the 16th will be OK.

Black Watch left Hamburg yesterday for Tilbury. Currently she’s off the Texel so she, too, should be back in port in plenty of time for her next cruise, which departs on the 15th.

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P&O have announced the schedule of cruises that Adonia will undertake following her return from Fathom. The first cruise, a 7 night Western Europe cruise, will start on 16 June, and will be followed by a programme of mainly 7 and 14 night itineraries. The full details aren’t yet available – we don’t know which actual ports will be visited on these cruises – but they will be published on 7 December.

There is one unexpected point, however. Obviously Adonia has got a taste for the Caribbean, because from October and through the winter she will be deployed on Eastern Caribbean fly-cruises. I have a feeling this is a new development.

Then on return to England in March 2018 she will undertake a summer-long programme of cruises to the usual destinations – Western Europe, Western Mediterranean, etc. Interestingly most of these are for either 7 or 14 nights – it looks as if the ‘extended duration’ cruises are being left to Arcadia and Oriana.

It looks as if all the European cruises will depart from Southampton, so no use of regional ports. I can’t help feeling that P&O have missed a trick there.

Here’s link to the ‘pre-announcement page’ on the P&O website.

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screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-09-52-01Here’s a webcam image taken just now (nearly 10am, 28 November) of Oriana and Black Watch in dock in Hamburg – Oriana on the left and Black Watch on the right. Here are a couple of links to other posts I’ve done about the refits to these ships – Oriana’s here, and Black Watch’s here. Black Watch will be back in service for a cruise starting from Tilbury on 15 December, while Oriana’s next cruise will start the day after, 16 December.

Here’s a link to the webcam page. You may have to wait for an ad to run, I’m afraid.

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There are stories floating around this morning that Fathom will cease offering voyages at the end of summer 2017. Apparently, while the voyages to Cuba became very popular, the ‘social impact’ voyages to the Dominican Republic never found a market. So the line will stop offering voyages. It’s likely that other lines owned by Carnival Corporation – indeed, any number of lines, I would expect – will offer voyages to Cuba, given the way that relations between the US and Cuba have thawed in the last year or so. As regards the efforts in the Dominical Republic it’s suggested that the Fathom concept will continue, but as an add-on to other Carnival lines’ voyages to that country – ‘Fathom’ activities will be available on those voyages.

Adonia will be returned to P&O UK, but there’s no word yet about a set of itineraries for her.

Here’s a link to a story in the Miami Herald about it, and another link to a story on USA Today.

Finally, here’s link to the set of posts I did about Fathom.

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