P&O: Have Carnival Gone Too Far?

So in 2020 P&O will get a very big new ship.

The new ship will be 180,000 gross tonnes which currently* makes it the 2nd biggest ship ‘class’ in the world, with only RCI’s ‘Oasis’ class being bigger.

However the new ship will carry up to 6,600 passengers – more passengers than RCI’s ‘Oasis’, yet will be 20% smaller.

The ship will of course have original livery and décor, but the design is likely to be similar to ships that AIDA, Costa and Carnival will also be getting. She will not really be specifically designed for the British market, irrespective of what the marketing will say. (Although she will have some P&O tweaks I guess, like a smaller Casino.)

I assume some of the world’s ports will not be able to accommodate such a big ship, which will limit the possible itineraries. Tendering is likely to be virtually impossible.

The question is “Have Carnival gone too far”?

Do P&O regulars really want such a big ship carrying a world record number of passengers? Is this the direction P&O should go? Is P&O becoming just another crowded mass market line? Or maybe Carnival have got it right as they are increasingly appealing to a new breed of P&O clientele?

Comments welcome.


*(Genting have a 200,000 gt ship due in 2019.  I believe she will have a lower-berth capacity of 5,000, so less then the new P&O vessel)


7 Responses to “P&O: Have Carnival Gone Too Far?”

  1. Malcolm Oliver Says:

    Hi Tom, thanks for your very interesting comments.

    I do agree that Oasis has many wow-spaces that you can argue are a ‘waste of space’, especially if you don’t use them. For example a ten story atrium, as you mentioned, only has useable floor-space, unless you can fly!

    However it is spaces like ‘Central Park’ and the ‘Boardwalk/Aqua Theatre’ which set her aside from all other ships.

    For me the only truly attractive rooms on-board any ship HAVE to be double or triple height, inefficient, yes, but very attractive and giving a feeling of opulence and space. If everything in life was purely designed for function, it would be a very dull world.

    It is also a fact of life that if you replace an on-board library or lounge with a shop, you make more money,

    I’m sure that Meyer Werft and Carnival have done the maths. They would not build a ship that was so crowded it had a negative impact on the passengers.

    However, I personally I cannot imagine a better design that Oasis, but only time will tell.

    Finally, P&O customers quickly accepted Ventura, Azura and Britannia. I guess there is no reason why the same will not happen with the 180,000 gt newbuild – unless Carnival have misjudged us Brits.

  2. Tom Says:

    While I love the Oasis Class and have done many cruises on Oasis and Allure (several already booked for Harmony), I have to say that a lot of the space onboard could be used more efficiently. Most of it is taken up by the huge Central Park and Boardwalk, which is mostly empty space for 6-8 decks. Not to mention the huge 10 deck high atriums of the aft and forward elevators or the 3 deck high, but again, venues only on the lowest level, Royal Promenade. And that’s before you touch the public spaces you mentioned in your article. While all that openess above helps with the “wow factor” and keeps these ships feeling spacious and airy, I could certainly see the potential for a smaller ship with a slightly higher capacity managing to put in enough new amenities to keep people’s attention. Throw in good passenger flow, and Carnival might just find themselves with the best (and most profitable) megaship platform out there. As far as the “Britishness” goes and what Brits want, I don’t think that necessarily excludes these 180,000 GT behemoths. Allure and Harmony has already proved that Mediterranean itineraries are possible. Leave the smaller ships to world cruises, but this new ship can certainly handle most basic European itineraries. Or by 2020 they will. Ports can see the writing on the wall, and for decades it’s always been a case of build bigger or become a niche port for smaller ships. With the exceptions of NCL and Celebrity, they’re all building bigger. Ports will change with them.

  3. Malcolm Oliver Says:

    A wise tactic Tom. To an extent I am playing devils-advocate and the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Carnival and Meyer werft are not fools and know more about ship building than many. The newbuilds will be a clever compromise between space, amenities and income generation. It just strikes me how far removed these newbuilds sound, compared to what P&O used to be about and offer. However the world and cruise passengers are changing!

  4. Tom Burke Says:

    I’m going to wait and see. We should have a clue about the layout of these ships in a year or so – the first Costa and Aida pair are due in service in 2019, so information will have to be available about them sometime in 2018, perhaps even earlier.

  5. Ronald Moyer Says:

    No, they don’t. I wasn’t interested in Carnival Vista either because of the similar tactics here. They added a deck and took away public spaces and filled in with cabins. So less room and more people to fill it. I sailed Allure in 2014 and never felt crowded. Sailing Harmony in November and it will be the same.

  6. Malcolm Oliver Says:

    Thanks for the comment Ronald.

    In fairness Ronald, we should probably wait until she’s built and we have read the first reviews from fare paying passengers. However the numbers don’t look great, do they!

  7. Ronald Moyer Says:

    I, for one, will NOT sail it. This ship is smaller in size than Oasis class and they’re cramming 300 more passengers than Oasis will. Oasis Class ships are large enough that you don’t feel crowded. I don’t plan on being a sardine.

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