New 184,000gt P&O Ship – Editors Comment

(Courtesy P&O)

(Courtesy P&O)

Wow, a 180,000 gross tonne ship for P&O in 2020 – I was not expecting that.

I would have expected the next P&O ship to be another Princess ‘Royal Class’ like Britannia is. All of P&O ships since Carnival acquired them, have been a Princess designs,  apart form ‘Arcadia’ which is a Carnival ‘Vista’ class.

I wonder what they will call her: ‘Canberra’? Mind you they have not been recycling their names for a while now.

Carnival are definitely back in the “my ship is bigger than yours” game, after sitting on the side-lines for over a decade.  They blamed the unfavourable US Dollar to Euro exchange rate which made big newbuilds unattractive to them.

The last time that Carnival built the world’s biggest ship was Cunard’s  ‘Queen Mary 2′ (148,000 gt), in 2003.  In  1998’ it was the ‘Grand Princess’ (109,000 gt ) for the ‘Princess Cruises’ brand and before that it was ‘Carnival Destiny’ (101,353 gt) in 1996.

If launched today, these  180,000 gt newbuilds would  to the 2nd biggest class of ship in the world, in term of size (gross tonnage). They are bigger than anything Princess has, NCL has and bigger than RCI’s Quantum class. (Although there are bigger ships on order for MSC and Genting)

I must say that P&O have been expanding nicely since Carnival acquired them. They have had four big new ships in a space of just ten years: Arcadia, Ventura, Azura and Britannia.

Oriana (1995) an Aurora (2000) were the last two ships purpose built for P&O, inside and out. Both ships are of a unique design specifically for P&O. In contrast  Arcadia is a Carnival ‘Vista’ class ship, Ventura and Azura are derived from Princess’s ‘Grand Class’ and Britannia from Princess’s ‘Royal Class’. P&O call them ‘purpose’ built for the British market, but the only major differences to other similar classes of ships around the world is the P&O livery and décor.

I do find it a little sad that each cruise line no longer necessarily has its own unique designs of ships. Designs have been widely replicated across many of the Carnival’s brands: particularly Carnival, Cunard, P&O, Costa, Princess and HAL.  However I do appreciate ‘generic’ ships are unlikely to worry Joe public.


P&O newbuild with it’s entertainment ‘Dome’

It would also appear that the Carnival, AIDA and Costa brands will all be getting some of these ships between 2019 and 2021. Generally when this happens the only variations tend to be the decor, room names and respective liveries. Internally the ships remain very similar. It’s all about economies-of-scale rather than deigning different ships for each brand.

This strategy make the assumption that all passengers, whatever their nationality/cruise line, require the same facilities. I was under the impression, for example, the AIDA ships had less formal dining than most, as the Germany AIDA clientele enjoyed the flexibility of buffets. P&O passengers may not?

We only know three things about these new mega-ships: 180,000 gt, 6,600 passengers (max), powered by LNG.

I have discussed LNG in other articles in my blog.

Although these new ships are not the world’s biggest in size (gt), their passenger capacity is the biggest, which Carnival has actually boasted about.  However a little worrying is the fact that one of the worlds biggest class of ships, RCI’s ‘Oasis of the Seas’ for example, carries a maximum of  6,300 passengers, but  is 20% bigger (gt) than the new Carnival design.

So how will this work? Well Carnival have stated that they will be:  “making much more efficient use of the ship’s spaces”.  Comparing gross tonnage does not give you the whole story, as the ships internal layout and passenger flow also makes a difference. However I’m still a bit sceptical that these ships could  possibly feel spacious.


I assume P&O new big-ship will homeport at Southampton. I wonder if RCI and NCL (even MSC) will feel the need to operate their newest/biggest ships for Southampton each summer, if the British market can sustain it. P&O obviously think it can.

I wonder how long it will be before P&O loose its older/smaller tonnage: Oriana and Aurora?


There was a time that the P&O product was not so dissimilar from their neighbours in Southampton, Cunard.  Both companies had a long nautical history which they often used in their marketing and both offered a refined British product.  Families with children were definitely not their target audience, but the ‘socks and sandals’ brigade (mature passengers) were.

Today P&O see to be trying to be “all things to all men”. Their older/smaller ships, Oriana and Aurora, are still very popular with the P&O stalwarts. Their bigger ships are increasingly feeling like just another  ‘mass-market’ product, as they strive to fill the thousands of berths. Each  summer, many UK families are attracted to P&O’s newer vessels. I guess P&O need new this blood to survive.  However Cunard still retain their more ‘classy’, mainly-adults only, ocean liner image, distinguishing their brand from P&O. However Cunard are a “niche” brand by comparison, with only three ships.

P&O are evolving. Unfortunately they may be evolving into something which is not appreciated by some of the P&O traditionalists. They obviously feel the need to compete with the increasing number of other mega-ships in the market.

Fred Olsen and CMV’s smaller ships, British on-board atmosphere and sometimes child-free experience, may begin to look more attractive to the disillusioned.

Am I talking rubbish? Feel free to tell me (politely)!


“Carnival Will Stuff More Than 7,000 Humans Into Its New Cruise Ships”

See Bloomberg Article HERE


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6 Responses to “New 184,000gt P&O Ship – Editors Comment”

  1. Malcolm Oliver Says:

    Thanks for the comments Tom, I do tend to make very broad statements at times.

    I still feel there is a ‘one size fits all’ aspect about using one ship design across different brands. However, maybe the worlds cruise passengers are not so different from each other? Maybe the design ‘tweaks’ and different décor are enough to maintain each line individual style and ambience?

    A few years ago the idea of a 180,000gt ship with 5,000+ passengers would not have sounded very P&O style at all. However Carnival are clearly doing something right!

  2. Tom Burke Says:

    Hello Malcolm

    We enjoy many features of the bigger ships – we do like all the facilities (even if we don’t use them). For example, when we were on Britannia we enjoyed our evening in The Limelight Club, which is the sort of venue that’s not available on the smaller ships, even on P&O’s ‘Grand’-class ships. We have also very much enjoyed features such as the Glasshouse (now on three ships), and we thought the atrium on Britannia was excellent. Unfortunately there were enough things about the design of Britannia that put us off her – the very small balconies and the absence of a decent promenade – we do enjoy our brisk walks. But note that those aren’t anything to do with sheer size, just with modern design. I suspect that wrap-round promenades are a thing of the past, because of We’ll see what facilities are on these new ships.

    Turning to the question of distinctiveness, P&O have managed to sneak some of their own features into some recent ships. We all take granted these days that P&O ships will have small casinos but large pubs. That’s been true of Arcadia, Ventura, Azura and Britannia, and represents a significant difference between those ships and their near sisters with other lines. In the case of Britannia there’s one other really major difference – she has a Crow’s Nest at the forward end of the Lido deck. On her Princess sisters, that whole area is cabins.

  3. Edwin Todd Says:

    Olsen and CMV any time Malcolm.

  4. Jo Walker Says:

    For those preferring smaller ships, Saga and Celestyal (Louis) are both building, or planning, smaller ships- Saga’s will be in 2019; Celestyal are hoping for a space in the full shipyard by 2020 or 21.

    I would love to try the new ship- the bigger the better- but we will not if there isn’t thought about where to put the passengers if it turns wet or cold, as frequently happens from S’ton.
    If it’s yet another ship built with the Caribbean in mind, then no, not for us.

  5. Malcolm Oliver Says:

    Hi Bruce, thanks for the compliment. Fred’s and CMV’s ships are getting a little bigger each time they acquire another one. 45,000 gt is starting to look small, it was once the norm.

  6. Bruce Tucker Says:

    Hi Malcolm. Thanks for another thought proboking article.
    My wife and I have completely gone off the mega cruise ships, P&O in particular.
    The panamax size was fine eg 90,000 tonnes with Serenade of the seas being one of the most beautiful ships we have sailed in.
    Not being able to afford/jusify Silverseas etc, we now favour the much smaller ships like Fred’s Braemar.
    However I wonder where Fred’s 2nd hand small ships will come from in future, that’s if the younger Family does decide to ‘carry on cruising’, any ideas?
    Regards Bruce

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