The addition of the new 180,000grt ship scheduled for delivery in 2020 has taken many by surprise. Not at the actual announcement of a new ship but the size and capacity that she will be and carry.
The new addition will be able to berth 5200 passengers, almost 1500 more than their current largest ship, Britannia.
So, the question that will be asked is what does the future hold for P&O Cruises and in particular the likes of Oriana, Aurora and Oceana?
Oriana is currently the oldest ship in the fleet after joining in 1995. She is going for quite an extensive refit in November this year to freshen and modernise the ship. By 2020, she will be 25 years old and suggestions and rumours by enthusiasts of cruise ships suggest that P&O may look to sell once the new ship has joined the fleet.
Her fellow older fleetmates, Aurora and Oceana could also be under threat with the additional new ship. Aurora will be 20 years old in 2020 and Oceana will be 18, so with the 5200 capacity of the new ship, it maybe prudent of P&O Cruises to sell at least one of the three older ships.
Oriana, Aurora and Oceana are no doubt very popular. They have a very loyal following indeed and they do represent (Oriana and Aurora in particular) the old connections with P&O Cruises before the merger with Carnival in 2002/3. Classic, traditional yet contemporary, Oriana and Aurora are regarded as two of the best looking cruise ships afloat, compared to some ships that are considered by some as ‘floating blocks of flats’.
However that maybe, sentimentality doesn’t really have a place in the cruise industry anymore. Economically and environmentally, cruise lines are relying on scales of economies when it comes to building new ships. It would seem more profitable to build larger ships, instead of a series of smaller ships. New fuels such as Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) of which the new P&O ship will be fueled by are the next generation of fuel for the new generation of ships.
So could this spell the end of the line for the likes of Aurora, Oriana and Oceana for P&O? Well, time will tell but if they should leave the fleet, surely there would be willing suitors to give them a new lease of life.
Cruise and Maritime have taken on Magellan and will next year take delivery of Columbus, currently Pacific Pearl of P&O Australia, They are a cruise line which are showing ambition and perhaps would be a suitable option for the likes of Aurora, Oceana and Oriana. Another option would be Fred Olsen, and some suggest that they would be looking to purchase a second hand ship or build a new ship in the foreseeable future but of course it is all speculation.
2017 sees P&O Cruises celebrate their 180th anniversary and judging by their exciting recent announcement for a new ship, the future for ‘Britain’s Favourite Cruise Line’ certainly looks bright.