Archive for the ‘P&O’ Category

Battle of The Mega-Ships, Southampton 2020

November 10, 2018

Bad news for small shop lovers:  Southampton, U.K. will be a battleground for three new mega-ships in 2020.

The biggest will be P&O’s new Iona at  around180,000 gross tonnes. She’s not the world’s biggest cruise ship, but her passenger capacity is, at a maximum of 6,600.

(Courtesy P&O)

A counter attack comes form Royal Caribbean. Their 2020 programme will see the return of Quantum-Class ship ‘Anthem of the Seas’ cruising itineraries from Southampton. Anthem is a mere 168,000 gross tonnes and carries up to 4,905 passengers.

Anthem of the Seas (Courtesy RCI)

RCI are also sending reinforcements in the form of another big new ship, form their premium brand, Celebrity, to Southampton in 2020.

Celebrity‘s second Edge-class ship, ‘Celebrity Apex’ will in fact be named in Southampton in April 2020. She will be a almost modest 129,500 gross tonnes (for a mega-ship) and carry 2,918 passengers (lower berths).

Celebrity Apex (Courtesy Celebrity)

President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said: “When Celebrity Apex launches in Southampton in April 2020, it will be another incredible moment for our company and the UK market, especially as it will be 10 years since we last named and operated a brand new ship from the UK (with Celebrity Eclipse in 2010).”

This will make it the very first time Celebrity will operate two ships from the UK’s largest port, with ‘Celebrity Silhouette’ returning to Southampton for her third consecutive year.

QM2 (Courtesy Cunard)

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 (QM2) has been home-porting at Southampton since 2004. At 149,00 gross tonnes, she was very briefly the worlds biggest cruise ships and is of course still the worlds biggest ocean liner. Yet she carries a respectable 2,695 passengers.

In 2020 the QM2 will sail World Voyage, departing from Southampton. The iconic flagship will take guests to explore the wonders of the Orient, Australia, New Zealand, and Africa. The itinerary is 99 nights, visiting 28 countries.

I also note that in the Spring/Summer/Autumn of 2020 Princess cruises 113,000 gt ‘Crown Princess’ will be operating from Southampton.  Virgin Voyages first new ship, ‘Scarlet Lady’ will be operating in the Caribbean in 2020.

Cunard are also preparing fans for the launch of their fourth ship set to join the fleet in 2022! It will be the first time since 1998 that the luxury cruise brand will have four ships in simultaneous service.

So which Ship/Line is Best?

Regular cruisers will know that there is no ‘best’. The different lines aim their products/ships at slightly different markets (people).

Royal Caribbean offer an American product and are particularly good at serving multi-generational families. There ships (all big to very big) have some impressive sports facilities and entertainment, dare I even say ‘gimmicks’. The ‘Quantum’ class has  a lot of hi-tech on-board and the ‘North Star’ observation pod and ‘I-Fly’ a free-fall experience,  for example. Please see my review of ‘Anthem of The Seas’.

Cunard offer an Anglo/American an experience steeped in years of tradition, on ships with Ocean Liner décor and ambience. Passengers almost feel like ‘royalty’ on-board with some high levels of food and service, depending on which cabin grade you book. Cunard do accept children, but it is not their strong point. Please see my Queen Mary 2 review or Queen Victoria review.

Celebrity offer a premium America experience on ship with contemporary décor. Everyone agrees that Celebrities food is some of the best on board big ships. Once again, Celebrity do accept children, but it is not their strong point. (That’s what RCI are for).

P&O’s Iona is a bit of an unknown quantity, being a new class of ship and their biggest yet. She will probably sit in the  mid-ground between the other ships mentioned.

P&O do have a very LOYAL following, but I’m not sure why. I don’t find their product to be bad, but I don’t find them to be great. They offer a British experience, so sterling is the on-board currency, yet Iona is an American designed ship. However the décor will be tailored for Brits.  There bar prices are reasonable which is a bit attraction for many and the new ‘no tipping’ policy will be appreciated.

Iona is a very big ship (one of the world’s biggest) and will have the worlds highest passenger capacity, if all berths are sold. If she does not feel crowded, she will DEFINITELY feel very busy.  She is unlikely to offer the ‘class’ and ‘standards’ of food that Cunard and Celebrity do. She will offer ‘Freedom Dining’ (flexible) only.  The concept of two fixed sittings and one main dining room is slowly vanishing.

I assume that P&O will have to appeal to families in order to fill such a big ship, but she will not have all the family orientated facilities that RCI ships do.

In conclusion,  opinions about the best ships/best cruise lines are all very subjective. I’m sure that all these big new ships will offer a very good cruise experience, but some will be better than others, depending who you are and what you want.

It is worth noting that such big ships can be restricted to which ports they visit. Also tendering (using small boats to go ashore when no suitable dock is available) may not be possible, especially for Iona. These ships are all likely to have a premium fares as big/new ships normally do.

However if you want a ‘good deal’ and/or some ‘solace’, you are best to look at smaller/older ships in my opinion. These can offer you a more personal and refined experience, rather than a floating-resort type one.

Malcolm

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Oriana To Sail For China Travel Services

October 22, 2018
oriana_main

(Courtesy of P&O)

Oriana will leave the P&O Cruises fleet in August 2019 and head for a new life in China, according to media reports.

The 1995-built ship will head for a new Chinese local brand, loosely translated as Twinkle Travel Cruise, part of the China Travel Services (CTS).

It is anticipated that the vessel will be operating short cruises from Chinese homeports to to Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia.

P&O Cruises senior vice president, Paul Ludlow, said: “Oriana is an original, and a much loved P&O Cruises ship. Whilst we will miss her, her departure will allow us to focus on our remaining mid-sized and larger ships as the fleet expands with Iona.

Meanwhile, the new P&O fleet program will cover three key areas of investment in shore excursions, dining and entertainment across mid-sized ships Arcadia and Aurora and Oceana as well as the larger ships Britannia, Azura and Ventura.

(P&O/Cruise Industry News)

Sister ship, ‘Aurora’ slide-show: HERE

Malcolm says: I’m always a little sad when a ‘classic’ (smaller) ship leaves a fleet, probably forced out to make way for the giant ‘Iona’ in this case, which is being delivered in 2020.  At 23 year old Oriana has at least a decade left in her, possibly a lot more.

In contrast to Oriana, Iona will carry a record number of passengers – up to 6,600 (with 5,200, lower berths).  Iona represents the new P&O brand, aimed at attracting multi-generational families onto a floating mass market resort.  Oriana is/was a favourite with P&O’s original more mature ‘socks & sandals’ brigade.

Oriana and Aurora (2000) were actually specifically built for P&O – all the P&O ships since have been Carnival/Princess designs.

Are you an Oriana fan? Do you have a story for me?

 

P&O’S Iona: Freedom Dining Only

October 13, 2018

P&O Cruises giant new ship, ‘Iona’,  is due to commence operating from her UK home port of Southampton, from May 2020.

Iona will be around 180,000 gross tonnes and will carry up to 6,600 passenger.

However, many P&O faithfuls were shocked to here than Iona will offer ‘Freedom Dining’ only.

A P&O’s statement said:

“As part of a new approach to dining, Iona will exclusively offer Freedom Dining in all of its main restaurants, a first for P&O Cruises. The move is designed to give more flexibility to each and every guest. They can choose just where and with whom they want to eat, and when they will sit down for breakfast, lunch or dinner.”

The History Of Flexible Dining

Now, the Norwegian cruise Line (NCL) invented flexible dining and they call it  ‘Freestyle Dining’. They have been operating it on their whole fleet for over two decades.

Even on-board NCL’s largest new mega-ships, ‘Freestyle’ generally works pretty well. However Royal Caribbean International (RCI) ‘borrowed’ the idea for their then new ‘Quantum of the Seas’ ship (2014) and called it ‘Dynamic Dining’. The plan was to extend ‘Dynamic’ to all the Quantum class ships and retro-fit it to other ships in their fleet to accommodate the system, including the ‘Oasis’ class. However RCI’s customers just didn’t like it and RCI COULDN’T make it work for them.

Personally I think ‘Dynamic Dining’ made the RCI experience feel too much like NCL one, with multiple dining rooms rather than one big/impressive main restaurant. RCI lost their identity. After all if RCI customers wanted to cruise NCL, they would.  RCI have since dropped the ‘Dynamic Dining’ concept completely.

I hope that P&O do better with their roll-out of ‘Freedom Dining’ on-board Iona.

More About Iona’s Dining

P&O announced: “The clean lines of the design will offer incredible views through the three storey high glass walls of the Grand Atrium and will also be open for quick and convenient breakfasts,” 

There is also a new “foodie market” as The Quays piazza will be home to a wide range of self-service and “takeaway” venues, with a lively atmosphere for sociable dining. 

P&O said the ship will offer 30 food and beverage venues. 

Other highlights include the The Glass House with small plates, charcuterie and cheese as well as around 40 wines by the glass chosen by wine expert Olly Smith; the British-Med specialities in Epicurean; contemporary fine dining Indian in Sindhu and the best of British in Brodie’s among a long list of restaurants, self-service choices, cafes and bars.

P&O Past and Present

Before being owned by Carnival, P&O used to be a very traditional line, which included the dining: Their ships had one main dining room and two fixed seating times at around 6.00 and 8:00pm.

However a ‘Freestyle’ system fits in better with the modern attitudes to life – many passengers (especially the younger generation) now find the fixed dining times just too regimented. The dress codes on just about all ships/lines are also being softened.

It is also worth bearing in mind that ‘Iona’ is a Carnival ship that other the Carnival brands: AIDA, Costa and Carnival will also be getting. The design of the dining rooms/dining system was probably NOT up to P&O at all – the design had to satisfy all four brands.

Iona will have FOUR main dining rooms and many alternatives.

I think it is increasingly difficult to have one big main restaurant on a ships carrying up to 6,600 passengers. Having said that, Royal Caribbean’s ‘Oasis’ class manages to achieve this. Their ‘Oasis’ class ships carry 5,000+ passengers and still have one main dining room and two sittings, plus some alternatives.

Personally I love to see a ship with one big/main opulent dining room with a double or triple height ceiling. Many Royal Caribbean ships and Cunard’s ‘Queen Mary 2’ have excellent examples.

‘Allure of the Seas’ Dining Room (RCI Image)

In conclusion

The ‘old’ P&O cruise line which once attracted the more mature ‘socks & sandal’ brigade is rapidly evolving.

P&O are morphing into another mass-market line, with some of the worlds biggest ships,  which need to attract younger passengers, including families, to fill such big ships such as Britannia and Iona.

Traditions will be abolished to achieve this, whether the die-hard fans like it or not. Let’s hope that P&O do not “throw the baby out with the bath water”.

I do wonder how different the Iona experience will really be, from an RCI or NCL one?

Malcolm

Q: Will you miss the tradition of fixed dining time and one main restaurant? Or is ‘freedom Dining’ the way forward?

 

Iona boasts a Gin Distillery and a Boutique Cinema

September 8, 2018

There are no shortages of P&O stories at present, while P&O’s publicity machine promotes their new mega-ship:

P&O Cruises has revealed more new features on-board its newest ship Iona.

Features will include an on-board distillery and gin bar as well as a “boutique cinema”.

The ship will boast its own distillery, as well as bar selling 30 different varieties of the most popular drink.

The line also revealed ‘Ocean Studios’ will be a four screen boutique cinema showing films throughout the day and with premium seating and surround-sound technology.

It is also rumoured that former bassist for Blur, Alex James will be curating the music on-board, although this has not yet been confirmed by P&O.

Olly Smith, will have his signature restaurant, The Glasshouse, on-board.

(P&O Cruises)

Malcolm says: I’m not big on Gin, but I do like a cinema. Many modern ships just do not have a ‘proper’ cinema. They went out of fashion a few decades ago. Some older ships have had their cinema’s converted into different public spaces or even turned into cabins (Thomson/Marella Celebration, for example).  It’s nice to see that Iona will have a Cinema – in fact four, really!

P&O Cruises To Scrap Their Service Charge

August 27, 2018

P&O Cruises will abolish their daily service charge on-board its entire fleet next year.

The move, which will come into effect from May 2019, means passengers’ bills will not include a discretionary charge – currently £7 – for service received onboard.

If passengers want to pay a service charge they can visit reception during their cruise.

(P&O)

Malcolm says: This very short story above, is probably one of the most significant changes in British cruising for decades.  Over the years, there have been endless debates about ‘tipping’ on-line.

Us Brits are NOT a nation of tippers and many British cruise passengers have begrudged paying this almost hidden cost, in addition to their cruise fares. I say hidden, because it is always tucked away in the small print. However the problem was always was one of guilt. The service charge (gratuity or tips, call it what you will) effectively paid the crews wages. The cruise lines hardly do.

I don’t think the issue was the fact that us Brits are mean, we just believe than employees should be paid a decent wage and not have to rely on ‘tips’. We also don’t like add-ons to the ‘sticker price’.  P&O’s decision gives British cruise passengers what we have been demanding for decades. Couple that with reasonably bar prices and P&O are onto a winner! Cunard, RCI and NCL have just become a little less attractive.

Mind you, P&O are not the first UK cruise line to abolish tips. Thomson cruises have successfully had a no tipping policy for decades.

Comments please!

Carnival’s LNG Ships Compared

August 24, 2018

Although the four Carnival cruise brands (Carnival, AIDA, COSTA and P&O) will get the same basic design of ship, they will be adapted a little for each brand. For example, the bows are different. Carnival and P&O appear to have similar bows to each other (below: top two images ), as  Costa and Aida’s versions are similar to each other (below: bottom two images). 

Image1Another example is that the P&O and Costa’s  sterns are different. The Carnival stern looks similar to the P&O one, the Costa similar to the AIDA one.

Image6

Top left, clockwise: Carnival (Unnamed), P&O’s Iona, AIDAnova, Costa Smeralda

We do not have the full deck plans or details of the public room yet, for this class of ship, so here are my speculations:

It appears from the renderings that the Carnival and Costa versions will NOT have  a ‘SkyDome’* as the P&O version will. The Costa version has a large open-air glass canopy behind the funnel. The AIDA appears to have a glass-house at the stern, for want of an official name.

SkyDome, Iona (Courtesy P&O)

These differences are because the Carnival and Costa versions of the ship are designed to operate in the warmer Mediterranean climates.  Ships designated for cruises from the U.K. (P&O) and Germany (AIDA) will need a large space protected by a roof (the Dome or ‘glass-house’) for inclement weather that that part of Europe can experience.

It appears from the renderings that the Carnival and Costa versions will NOT have  a ‘SkyDome’* as the P&O version will. The Costa version has a large open-air glass canopy behind the funnel. The AIDA appears to have a glass-house at the stern, for want of an official name.

Early deck plans show that the Costa and AIDA designs have a circular space amidships spanning a number decks 6, 7 and 8, reminiscent of AIDA’s ‘Theatrium’  – a combined atrium and entertainment space featured on their previous ships.  On-board Costa Smeralda it is called ‘Closseo’.

costa

Above: Costa Smeralda (Courtesy Costa)

AIDAnova_Theatrium_b7839d3397-fill-625x351

Above: Theatrium (Courtesy AIDA)

Early deck plans show that the Costa and AIDA designs have a circular space amidships spanning a number decks 6, 7 and 8, reminiscent of AIDA’s ‘Theatrium’  – a combined atrium and entertainment space featured on their previous ships.  On-board Costa Smeralda it is called ‘Closseo’.

Iona-Grand-Atrium

Above: Iona’s Grand Atrium (Courtesy of P&O)

P&O’s Grand Atrim and ‘SkyDome’ sounds like a variation of AIDA’s Theatrium and Costa’s Closseo (all being circular) with a dome on top.

Above: Iona, with her ‘SkyDome’ (Courtesy P&O)

The Costa and AIDA sterns features a low extended deck area, reminiscent of MSC’s ‘Seaside’ ships. Seven decks rise from the stern offering prime real-estate: many aft facing balcony cabins. The two rows of windows below the stern deck (5 and 6) are to restaurants sitting on top of each other. There is also a third restaurant sitting on the stern promenade deck (7).

The P&O design  (and maybe the Carnival) appear to have have their stern-promenade located a deck higher. P&O have said that there are four main dining restaurants: Pearl, Coral, Aqua and Opal.  Maybe three are stacked on top of each other below the stern promenade and one is located o the stern promenade. (just a guess!)

Looking at the Costa renderings: Leading from the aft deck area, are some steps to a raised promenade deck which runs along 80% of the side of the ship. This prom deck is above the lifeboats and obviously solely for public use and not for lifeboat boarding. It does not appear to wrap around the bow, unless it has an internal tunnel. The rendering is not specific, but this could feature some bars and restaurants like NCL’s ‘Waterfront’. (“A much wider, half-mile promenade deck allowing for al-fresco dining.” was recently reported by P&O) 

The P&O model and Carnival renderings do NOT appear to show ‘steps’ on the promenade. They show an uninterrupted one level prom. P&O call it the ‘Lanai’ deck.

NewCostaShipsLNG2ddf3

Costa Smeralda Above: (Courtesy of Costa – click to enlarge)

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P&O Model

This ship design of these ships is NOT the biggest in the world, that is RCI’s ‘Oasis’ class at around 35-40,000 gt bigger, but they will have the biggest passenger capacity in the world at an all-berth figure of 6,600.

Malcolm

*(A brand new entertainment done will be the SkyDome and guests can expect it to be one of Iona’s star attractions.  The roof will be one of the most impressive features along with a pool with a retractable stage, offering a unique space whatever the weather and the time of day.  During the day, SkyDome is the ideal place for relaxation and informal dining with a swimming pool, Jacuzzi and poolside features, and shaded seating areas.  But by night, it comes alive with aerial performances, immersive shows and deck parties and above it all, it is a glazed dome roof designed by award-winning British engineers Eckersley O’Callaghan, the team behind glass masterpieces such as Bulgari’s flagship New York boutique.) P&O

P&O’s Iona: Stateroom renderings: HERE

What is LNG? See: HERE

Dining/Entertainment On-board P&O’s New Iona

July 10, 2018

The Grand Atrium (Courtesy P&O)

“As part of a new approach to dining, Iona will exclusively offer Freedom Dining in all of its main restaurants, a first for P&O Cruises. The move is designed to give more flexibility to each and every guest.  They can choose just where and with whom they want to eat, and when they will sit down for breakfast, lunch or dinner” (P&O)

Iona will offer guests unprecedented levels of quality and flexibility when it comes to food and drink. The exciting array of options combines brand-new dining and drinking concepts with much-loved signature venues to give new meaning to the word ‘choice’. With 29 different venues to choose from, there’s something for everyone, whatever their mood, at any time of day and night.

A P&O Cruises First, Iona will exclusively offer Freedom Dining in the main restaurants. This puts guests in the driving seat, giving them the flexibility to dine with friends and family any time from 6–9pm. At peak times, a pager will alert them when the table is ready so there’s time to relax with an aperitif.

Other P&O Cruises Firsts include two brand-new dining concepts and a new live music venue.

The Quays is an exciting foodie piazza offering a great range of self-service and takeaway venues and a lively atmosphere for sociable dining. Within The Quays, a host of new dining venues showcasing cuisines from around the world will create a vibrant buzz – from American diner classics to Asian fast-food favourites. Another foodie first is The Keel and Cow, a fabulous British gastropub serving hearty pub fare. The 710 Club serves up live music and stylish cocktails: the perfect combination to let the good times roll long into the night.

Of course, it’s not just about the new. Iona also celebrates the best P&O Cruises dining and drinking traditions with favourites such as Brodie’s, The Crow’s Nest, The Epicurean, Sindhu and The Beach House, along with pool bars and a pizzeria and grill.

Iona brings iconic P&O Cruises stars and new trends in food and dining under one fabulous roof.

The 710 Club, Deck 6

It’s all about the music at The 710 Club. The secret haven – exclusively for adults – is the perfect spot in which to relax and enjoy the musical atmosphere, day or night. During the day, it’s a retreat from the hustle and bustle, offering something a little different. At night, it transforms into a sophisticated venue hosting a diverse range of top-class singers and bands tailored to British tastes: acoustic covers, ‘impromptu’ performances, classic and modern jazz, swing, Rat Pack, modern and acoustic rock music will feature. The 710 Club offers a fun and lively atmosphere, and is sure to captivate guests night after night.

The Keel and Cow, Deck 8

The Keel and Cow is an unpretentious gastropub, where food and drink have been crafted into something truly special. Located on deck 8, it offers a quick and convenient breakfast for those going ashore, and lunchtimes bring top-quality, authentic gastropub fare to the fore, with dishes such as a signature beef and stout burger, beer-battered fish and triple-cooked chips, black-pudding scotch eggs and more. At night, guests can gather with friends to enjoy hearty dishes or select from a range of steaks from the dry-ageing fridge. With views over the Grand Atrium or out to sea, or even to the chefs at work in the open galley, The Keel and Cow is the perfect place to bring friends and family together to enjoy delicious food, real hand-pumped ales and a great selection of craft ales in a relaxed, informal environment.

The Quays, Deck 8

Head to The Quays for informal dining options to suit every mood. This multi-venue dining piazza offers an amazing array of eateries and restaurants and is a lively hub for socialising over food and watching the world go by. There’s a fun street-food atmosphere with plenty of buzz, theatre and colour adding to the beachfront promenade vibe. With access onto the Promenade Deck, outdoor dining is available too. It’s all about flexible, fun, family-friendly food – the perfect place for a quick snack, light lunch or informal dinner.

With such a choice of foodie venues, The Quays will hit the hunger spot, from morning breakfasts to late-night snacks. New dining concepts found in The Quays include:

• The Boardwalk Diner (all-day, self-service): American classics meet Southern soul food with an all-day menu including chargrilled burgers, hot dogs, eggs over easy, southern-fried chicken with a side of slaw and so much more. Head on over for informal fast-food dining from breakfast until dinner.

• Fusion (all-day, take-away): Fusion is a hot spot for lovers of authentic Asian flavours. Offering take-away dishes all day, enjoy an odyssey around South East Asia in a relaxed and casual environment.

• Hook Line and Vinegar (all-day, self-service): For seaside hunger cravings at lunch or dinnertime, nothing beats traditional British fish and chips. Think crispy battered fish, calamari, fish burgers, scampi, crab cakes – all served with chips and mushy peas.

• The Olive Grove (restaurant, lunch and evening service): With a strong focus on food provenance, The Olive Grove celebrates the flavours of the southern and eastern Mediterranean with authentic dishes and sharing platters. Mouthwatering aperitifs and a well-chosen list of regional wines completes the menu and adds to the relaxed dining experience. The Olive Grove is the ideal venue for intimate dinners for two or a celebratory family meal – with options to eat in the restaurant or in the conservatory area.

Eric Lanlard’s Afternoon Tea, Deck 17

For the ultimate daytime indulgence, Eric Lanlard’s Afternoon Tea is an on-board experience not to be missed. His unique twist on this classic British institution elevates the humble afternoon tea into something utterly decadent. As expected from the imagination of master pâtissier Eric Lanlard, delicious savoury and sweet surprises adorn each tempting cake stand, all served with a wide array of speciality teas.

Andersons, Deck 6

By day, Andersons is a quiet lounge bar with a library for browsing – the ideal spot for reading and relaxation. By evening, it becomes the place for before or after-dinner drinks – the main dining restaurants are located next door. The atmosphere is intimate, stylish and sociable with the feeling of a private members’ club. The exciting focal point of Andersons is a boutique gin distillery. Situated to the side of the bar, the statement piece in shining copper champions the art of artisanal gin. Guests will gather around it for masterclasses and gin tastings. Andersons is a must for connoisseurs in search of the finest tipples.

Beachcomber Pool and Bar, Deck 18

Situated to the fore of the ship, the Beachcomber Pool and Bar area offers plenty of space to relax in the sun and shade. The bar will rustle up a wide range of much-loved cocktails while guests relax and soak up the sunshine.

Brodie’s and Casino, Deck 7

Brodie’s, the much-loved British pub, is a sociable place where a good time is guaranteed. It boasts the ship’s largest range of British and international bottled beers, ciders and real ale. There’s a great selection on tap too, not to mention a well-stocked wine menu and tasty traditional British bar snacks such as pork scratchings, peanuts and crisps.

During the day, Brodie’s hosts quizzes and live sport. By night, it’s a popular spot for live entertainment, karaoke, quizzes and game shows. And don’t forget the adjacent Casino, which offers the latest gaming technology and games to suit all pockets, for novices and experts alike.

Crystal Bar and Laguna Bar, Deck 16

These poolside bars offer a wide range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and are perfectly placed for al fresco refreshment when relaxing by the pool or enjoying fun activities such as sail-away parties. Both bars are located in the SkyDome.

Emerald Bar, Deck 6

For evening glamour, the stylish Emerald Bar in the Grand Atrium is the cocktail hotspot, thanks to its relaxed living-room feel and a Covent Garden-style buzz. With a large menu of premium cocktails, it’s an ideal location for pre-dinner drinks or as a late-night bar. From mid-morning, the space will host pop-up entertainment such as buskers and musical performances. From the early evening, guests will be treated to aerial circus performances. Whatever the time of day or night, spectacular sea views add to the unforgettable ambience.

Horizon Restaurant, Deck 16

The all-day self-service buffet is the perfect option for casual, flexible dining. The elegant design adds to the relaxed and easy atmosphere. Whatever the time of day or night, Horizon offers a wide range of tempting dishes, from traditional British favourites to foods from around the globe. Catering to a wide range of dietary requirements, vegetarian dishes, gluten-free choices and healthier eating options are all available. To top it off, all meals come with the best panoramic ocean views on the ship.

Main dining restaurants: Pearl, Coral, Aqua and Opal, Decks 6 & 7

All four main dining restaurants will offer Freedom Dining. This allows guests to enjoy dining with little more sense of occasion, and the flexibility to dine with chosen companions at a time that suits them. Although the surroundings are elegant in each restaurant, the atmosphere is always relaxed and welcoming with sittings for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.

All Main Dining venues will also host the popular Gala Nights with a special Gala menu devised by P&O Cruises Food Hero Marco Pierre White.

Each of the restaurants has a distinctive design and style. Although grand in scale, the dining rooms will include more intimate areas with low balustrades and atmospheric mood lighting.

The largest, Pearl and Coral, are located on decks 6 and 7 respectively at the aft of the ship – and combine to make one large dining space over two levels. Here, the dining space spanning both decks is glazed full height with a feature staircase and

uninterrupted views over the ocean. Aqua and Opal are smaller restaurants, located port and starboard side respectively.

Gelateria, Deck 8

Located at the top of the Grand Atrium at the entrance to The Quays, and with access to the Promenade Deck, this is an informal and family-friendly gelateria serving scoops of modern Italian-style gelato in addition to premium tea and coffee. Guests can enjoy their goodies in the Gelateria or take them away to savour on the Promenade Deck.

Sindhu, Deck 16

Visit Sindhu to be treated to authentic Indian cuisine with a British twist. This Select Dining favourite offers a menu that is a triumph of perfectly balanced spices, delicate flavours and wonderful aromas. Dining amidst its sumptuous fabrics and opulent décor is a treat for the senses and an experience not to be missed.

SkyDome Pizzeria and Grill, Deck16

For peckish moments at any time of day, deck 16 is the place to go for fresh oven-baked pizzas and grilled goodies such as top-quality burgers and classic fish and chips. The food venue will also offer more global flavours with popular street foods from around the world.

Sunset Bar, Deck 8

At the aft end of the Promenade Deck, the Sunset Bar is the best place to enjoy a sundowner at the end of the day, with easy access to The Club House and its chilled evening vibe. By day, it’s equally atmospheric with cooling sun canopies to relax under and drink in the sea views.

Sundaes, Deck 16

For happy holiday treats, Sundaes in the SkyDome is perfect for all the family with a wide range of ice cream favourites to choose from.

The Beach House

In the evenings, the forward section of Horizon Restaurant transforms into a fun and informal Select Dining venue, The Beach House. Inspired by South American, Caribbean and Stateside cuisines, the menu offers hearty dishes and comfort-food favourites.

Highlights include the steaks, ribs, grills and burgers, hanging kebabs and a range of sharable sides. Save space for the decadent and delicious desserts.

The Club House, Deck 8

This flexible venue leads out into the aft end of the Promenade Deck to offer relaxing inside and outside spaces. It’s a bright, spacious, multi-purpose lounge by day – ideal for afternoon entertainment and family fun. By night, it transforms into a modern live-lounge and late-night disco, offering entertainment and dancing long into the night. The extensive bar area inside serves drinks and bar snacks.

The Crow’s Nest, Deck 17

The iconic observation lounge is a well-established feature of the fleet. Offering panoramic views of the ocean in a relaxed, modern and elegant setting, it’s a delightful spot for daytime reveries and reading. In the evening, the venue becomes a sophisticated cocktail lounge with a live pianist adding to the nostalgic sense of style. Located adjacent to The Epicurean, it’s a popular spot for aperitifs or after-dinner drinks, and relaxed socialising into the night.

The Epicurean, Deck 17

The Epicurean offers a gastronomic blend of classic and contemporary fine dining in elegant surroundings with uninterrupted sea views. The mood in this Select Dining restaurant is refined and intimate: impeccable service, crisp white tablecloths and a premium wine list complement the extraordinary food.

The focus is on provenance. Dishes are made with the finest and freshest local produce and prepared with great skill, fusing the best modern British and destination culinary traditions. The simple ingredients are the stars of the show. A Chef’s Table and a private dining area for up to eight guests provide further opportunity for special occasions and celebrations.

The Glass House, Deck 7

Created by award-winning wine expert and P&O Cruises Food Hero Olly Smith, The Glass House is for lovers of fine wine and great food. The premium wine bar boasts an impressive wine list curated by Olly and offers a sophisticated environment in which to enjoy breakfast, a light lunch, a leisurely glass of wine or an evening meal with family or newfound friends. Wine connoisseurs are well taken care of: Cellar Door at The Glass House offers wine talks, tastings and wine-pairing dinners. It’s in prime position to enjoy the Grand Atrium’s aerial performances, as well as magnificent views out to the horizon.

The Limelight Club, Decks 6

This supper-club venue is a fixed favourite. After the daytime dancing classes, The Limelight Club is the place to be for adult-only evening dining and entertainment. The club exclusively hosts established and emerging vocalists and is the dedicated venue for resident performers and the house band. As the entertainment gets underway, guests enjoy a unique dining experience: it starts with a welcome drink before a themed multi-course menu is served at intervals throughout the show. After the performances, the bar is open to all and becomes a lively late-night hotspot.

Vistas Café Bar, Decks 6

Located in the heart of the Grand Atrium, Vistas is a warm and welcoming café with a buzzing atmosphere. Serving premium tea, coffee and snacks, as well as tempting treats from P&O Cruises Food Hero and master pâtissier Eric Lanlard, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing pit stop while looking at fabulous ocean views or watching the world on ship go by.

In the evenings, it’s an ideal spot for an after-dinner coffee or wind-down tea. From mid-morning there will also be pop-up entertainment, and from early evening impromptu aerial circus performances will add to the drama and excitement of the Grand Atrium space.

(P&O)

Entertainment:

The 710 Club, Deck 6

This is the venue all about the music, a secret haven exclusively for adults where relaxing in a musical atmosphere is the priority (day or night).

For guests who prefer this vibe during the day, what you will find is a retreat from the hustle and bustle, offering something a little different.

At night though, the spot transforms into somewhere oozing sophistication with a diverse range of top-class singers and bands tailored to British tastes.This can include acoustic covers, ‘impromptu’ performances, classic and modern jazz, swing, Rat Pack, modern and acoustic rock music.

SkyDome, Decks 16 and 17

A brand new entertainment done will be the SkyDome and guests can expect it to be one of Iona’s star attractions.

The roof will be one of the most impressive features along with a pool with a retractable stage, offering a unique space whatever the weather and the time of day.

During the day, SkyDome is the ideal place for relaxation and informal dining with a swimming pool, Jacuzzi and poolside features, and shaded seating areas.

But by night, it comes alive with aerial performances, immersive shows and deck parties and above it all, it is a glazed dome roof designed by award-winning British engineers Eckersley O’Callaghan, the team behind glass masterpieces such as Bulgari’s flagship New York boutique.

Ocean Studios, Deck 6

This is one for the film fanatics where you’re greeted with a warm welcome, comfortable seating and a relaxing environment for that premium cinema experience!

Four cinema screens will host everything from classics to recent blockbusters in surround sound with screenings throughout the day, popcorn and snacks for plush boutique surroundings.

The Club House, Deck 8

The non-stop upbeat atmosphere entertains both day and night where daytime sees the space function as a vibrant multi-purpose space that’s perfect for families to play games and enjoy afternoon entertainment including game shows!

Once the sun goes down, The Club House becomes Iona’s late-night venue, offering dancing in a modern ‘live lounge’ environment.

P&O guests can also enjoy the sounds of Iona’s talented house band, Pulse, at night with an indoor/outdoor space, boasting bar areas leading to the outdoor aft end of the Promenade Deck.

The Limelight Club, Deck 6

A feast for the senses, this venue blesses you with fantastic food, great company and top-notch entertainment.

The venue showcases established and emerging entertainers and is the dedicated space for resident performers, all accompanied by a gregarious compère and Iona’s house band.

Exclusively for adults, it’s also a hotspot for dancing, with daytime classes and hosted dancing events; guests can enjoy a drink on arrival before tucking into a menu full of unique, innovative dishes.

To heighten the sense of occasion, P&O have made sure the menus have a ‘show business’ theme where after each night’s show, the club transforms into a late-night venue for post-show drinks and revelry.

Headliners Theatre, Decks 6 and 7

This is perfect for a classic yet contemporary night with a sleek and sophisticated theatre experience: plush, comfortable seating and the latest LED technology deliver the ‘wow’ factor.

The two-deck-high auditorium on decks 6 and 7 ensures everyone has the best view in the house and during the day, guests can enjoy matinee performances and activities such as talks, films and Q&As.

But once night falls, full-scale production shows hit the stage– think dazzling West End style performances, cabaret, comedy and more!

The Ivory Suite, Deck 17

Love is in the air in The Ivory Suite as the primary venue for weddings and renewals of vows, it’s perfect for intimate and mid-sized ceremonies, all tailored to guests’ requests.

The premium location next to the Crow’s Nest and The Epicurean is light, airy whilst the elegant surroundings and ocean views provide a romantic backdrop for photographs.

Kids Clubs:

The Reef, Deck 17

This free on-board activity programme for children is a place to keep them safe and entertained throughout their entire cruise as and when they need, a place they can forge friendships with other children their own age.

Staffed by a crew of enthusiastic and qualified Reef rangers, it offers clubs with a wide range of age-specific entertainment:

  • Nursery (6 months-2 years)
  • Splashers (2-4 years)
  • Surfers (5-8 years)
  • Scubas (9-12 years)

There is also a secure outdoor play area and a designated splash park for these age groups whilst parents can make use of then complimentary Night Nursery available for ages six months to four years, open from 6pm to 2am each night.

A quiet area is created for the perfect surroundings for an infant to sleep; parents are contacted via a pager if their child wakes up.

Scene, Deck 6

Scene is a secret on-board hang-out for teens aged 13 to 17 and is separated from the rest of the children’s club, giving teens a chance to have their own space and allowing them to dip in and out of planned events.

It operates during high peak cruising season and in the low season, it becomes an entertainment space for adults.

Guests should note that in all children’s clubs, including the night nursery, allocation is on a first come, first served basis due to limited spaces available.

(P&O)

Malcolm says: This design of mega-ship will also be given to Costa, AIDA and Carnival. One assumes that much of the hardware, such as the dining rooms, will be similar for all brands. I fear that P&O will lose many of their traditions (such as two sitting for dinner and silver service) and become just another big mass-market line.  This ship will surely be aimed at multi-generational families, just like RCI, NCL and MSC ships are.  The ‘socks & sandal’ brigade are history!

I’m not suggesting that Iona will be a bad ship or offer a poor product. I am suggesting P&O are losing their original identity.  Did you know that ‘Oriana’ (1995) and ‘Aurora’ (2000) were the last two ships specifically built for P&O, all others since have been Princess/Carnival designs. (Oriana will be leaving the P&O fleet in 2019).

Iona will hold the record for the most number of passengers on-board a cruise ship (around 5,200 lower berths, + upper berths), although she is about 22% smaller than RCI’s ‘Oasis’ class, the worlds biggest cruise ships. That sounds a little worrying to me.

P&O’s New Mega-ship Named: Iona

May 24, 2018

rst .

On Thursday 24 May at 4pm P&O announced live to the world, the name of our their new ship, which enters service in 2020.

She will be called: IONA

The announcement comes as a result of a competition that P&O ran last year, when we invited members of the public to suggest a suitable name for the ship. Over 30,000 submissions were received with a panel of experts making the final decision. 

Iona, a Carnival ‘Helios’ class design will be delivered in 2020. A sister ship for P&O is due for delivery in 2022.

The Scottish island of Iona.

Construction

P&O says: On 25 April 2018, the very first piece of steel was cut for Iona at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. At around 184,000 tons, it will have a capacity for up to 6,600 guests, making it the largest cruise ship ever built for the British market.

The signature heart of Iona, the Atrium, will be our boldest and brightest yet. Glass walls spanning three decks will let natural light flood in while a grand staircase, gallery and overhead walkways will provide dramatic focal points.

Iona will also be the most environmentally efficient ship in the history of P&O Cruises. Powered at sea and in port by liquefied natural gas (LNG), exhaust emissions will be significantly reduced to help protect the environment.

You’ll be treated to the best British hospitality and standards of service that you know and love.

po_steel_cutting-fill-800x619

Our new star of the show, The Dome

A major new entertainment hub called The Dome will be one of the star attractions of Iona. Featuring an impressive glass roof, a pool with a retractable stage, a water feature and whirlpools, it offers a unique space whatever the weather.

By day, The Dome is the perfect place for entertainment, relaxation and informal dining. By night, the four key entertainment spaces come alive with aerial performances, roof projections and immersive shows.

(Courtesy P&O)

There will also be much wider than normal, half-mile promenade deck, called the “Lanai” deck, allowing for al-fresco dining.

A world of even more choice on board

Iona has been designed by the world’s leading design and guest experience teams to make sure you have a wealth of dining, entertainment, socialising and relaxation options to suit every mood and occasion: Choose from:

• 17 places to eat to suit all appetites and occasions
• Seven speciality restaurants
• 12 places to enjoy a drink and take in sea views
• 16 whirlpools
• Four swimming pools (three outside and one inside)
• 13 entertainment venues from the theatre to venues for adults only, including three pop-up entertainment spaces
• Nine places to have breakfast
• Five places to take afternoon tea
• Seven places to enjoy fresh coffee

Partnering with the best in the business

Design innovation is being taken to new levels by collaborations with award-winning architectural and interior design teams. We’re proud to be working with residential and commercial architects Jestico & Whiles (London), whose work includes Aquashard (London), the Yas Hotel (Abu Dhabi) and the W Hotel (London). We’re once again joining forces with Richmond International (London), who worked with us on Britannia and whose luxury hotel portfolio includes The Langham Hotel (London and Chicago), The Four Seasons Moscow, and Sandy Lane Hotel (Barbados).

The design of cabins and the flow of on-board experiences will also be developed under the expert eye of maritime architecture specialists Partner Ship Design and design experts Acumen, who developed the first lie-flat bed for British Airways and Etihad Airways’ opulent three-room sky suites.

(Source: P&O)

vvvvvvvv

(Courtesy P&O)

See Iona’s Dining/Entertaining options: HERE

Malcolm says: The name ‘Iona’ comes from the beautiful scottish Island of the same name. Arthur Anderson, one of P&O’s co-founders, was born in Scotland. P&O was created in 1837.

Carnival are providing AIDA, Costa and their own brand with ‘Helios’ class ships. From the P&O information above and the renderings of the Costa version of the ship, there will be some design differences between the Costa and P&O versions. For example the Costa renderings does not show a ‘Sky Dome’.

Perhaps a little worrying, is the fact is that this new class of cruise ship will carry more passengers than any other ship in history, up to 6,600. This is more that RCI’s ‘Oasis’ class, yet will be 20% smaller. You will have a little less room on-board, than on RCI’s ‘Quantum’ and ‘Oasis’ classes.

The port of Southampton and it’s infrastructure (terminals, parking and roads) will surely need more investment, in order to handle multiple ships, two of which can carry up to 6,600 passengers each.

Carnival’s LNG megaships analysed: HERE

P&O Cruises Reveals Details Of ‘Most Ambitious’ Ship

October 27, 2016

 

P&O Newbuild 180,000 gt

P&O Model (Courtesy P&O)

Construction of the latest addition to the fleet will get underway next year at Meyer Werft’s Papenburg shipyard in Germany. The ship will enter service in the UK in 2020. At 180,000 tons, it will have a capacity for up to 6,600 guests, making it the largest cruise ship ever built for the British market.

The signature heart of the ship, the Atrium, will be our boldest and brightest yet. Glass walls spanning three decks will let natural light flood in while a grand staircase, gallery and overhead walkways will provide dramatic focal points.

The ship will also be the most environmentally efficient ship in the history of P&O Cruises. Powered at sea and in port by liquefied natural gas (LNG), exhaust emissions will be significantly reduced to help protect the environment.

You’ll be treated to the best British hospitality and standards of service that you know and love.

Our new star of the show, The Dome

P&O newbuild 180,000 gt

A major new entertainment hub called The Dome will be one of the star attractions of our new ship. Featuring an impressive glass roof, a pool with a retractable stage, a water feature and whirlpools, it offers a unique space whatever the weather.

By day, The Dome is the perfect place for entertainment, relaxation and informal dining. By night, the four key entertainment spaces come alive with aerial performances, roof projections and immersive shows.

There will also be much wider than normal, half-mile promenade deck, called the “Lanai” deck, allowing for al-fresco dining.

A world of even more choice on board

Our new ship has been designed by the world’s leading design and guest experience teams to make sure you have a wealth of dining, entertainment, socialising and relaxation options to suit every mood and occasion: Choose from:

• 17 places to eat to suit all appetites and occasions
• Seven speciality restaurants
• 12 places to enjoy a drink and take in sea views
• 16 whirlpools
• Four swimming pools (three outside and one inside)
• 13 entertainment venues from the theatre to venues for adults only, including three pop-up entertainment spaces
• Nine places to have breakfast
• Five places to take afternoon tea
• Seven places to enjoy fresh coffee

Partnering with the best in the business

Design innovation is being taken to new levels by collaborations with award-winning architectural and interior design teams. We’re proud to be working with residential and commercial architects Jestico & Whiles (London), whose work includes Aquashard (London), the Yas Hotel (Abu Dhabi) and the W Hotel (London). We’re once again joining forces with Richmond International (London), who worked with us on Britannia and whose luxury hotel portfolio includes The Langham Hotel (London and Chicago), The Four Seasons Moscow, and Sandy Lane Hotel (Barbados).

The design of cabins and the flow of on-board experiences will also be developed under the expert eye of maritime architecture specialists Partner Ship Design and design experts Acumen, who developed the first lie-flat bed for British Airways and Etihad Airways’ opulent three-room sky suites.

STOP PRESS: P&O cruises has decided that it will throw open the naming process for its new cruise ship to the public. Another ‘Boaty McBoatface’ maybe?

(Source: P&O)

Below slide show:

Malcolm says: Carnival are providing AIDA, Costa and their own brand with these ships. From the P&O information above and the renderings of the Costa version of the ship, there will be some design differences between the Costa and P&O versions. For example the Costa renderings does not show a ‘Sky Dome’.

I’m still not convinced that such a large ship is a good ‘fit’ for P&O. But then I’m forgetting that P&O are no longer just catering for the ‘socks & sandals’ brigade, they are now a mass-market line hoping to attract the same passengers as Carnival, RCI and NCL.

Perhaps the most disturbing fact is that this cruise ship will carry more passengers than any other ship in history, up to 6,600. This is more that RCI’s ‘Oasis’ class, yet will be 20% smaller. You will have a little less room on-board, than on RCI’s ‘Quantum’ and ‘Oasis’ classes.

The port of Southampton will surely need more investment, in order to handle a ship carrying up to 6,600 passengers.

P&O/Costa Megaships Analysed: HERE

Azura Meets Black Watch

September 13, 2015

(Image courtesy of Sergio Ferreira – click to enlarge)

P&O’s Megaship ‘Azura’ (2010) recently met Fred Olsen’s ‘Black Watch’ (1971).

This is what 115,000 gross tonnes ship, that can carry 3,000+ passengers looks like, when compared to 28,000 gross tonnes ship, that can carry 800 passengers.

The ships were built 39 years apart.

Malcolm

Black Watch Review: HERE

Ventura (sister of Azura) Review: HERE