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P&O 2019 - Oceana Based In The UAE


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I think you're quite right with that OWT. I too think that if they reallocated some of their budget away from marketing and directed it towards improving the overall on board experience, or even a spe

I think it's great that they have ventured to somewhere different, just hoping the new Caribbean itineraries have some different ports of call!!

You make , as always, some excellent points sammy sun. There are 62 cruise lines in the market place of which, during the summer months, 12 will this year operate from ports in the south of Engla

5 minutes ago, eyes12 said:

ive just recieved my post with the oceania cruise to the arabian gulf what a fantastic trip - does anyone know the best time to go when it is not too hot?

the dates in the leflet i have recieved are from jan - march so not sure what the best time is to go.

 

thanks

 

You would be fine during that time. That's the main reason P&O are looking to sail there at that time. It's an ideal winter sun destination. It's nice and warm over there during that timeframe but without the immense humidity that you get during the summer period. I have a friend who a few years ago took his wife and two kids of 8 and 5 to Dubai in August. The temperature was 46 degrees most of the week and the humidity meant it was difficult to remain outside for too long without needing to retreat back indoors to the savior of air-con. There's no way I would go over there at that time but November through to March I certainly would. Lovely time to go.

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I have recently returned from a similar cruise on the vision of the seas and really enjoyed it. i would certainly think about doing it again especially as its Oceana ( one of my favourite ships ) i would be staying on-board in Khasab though unless they offer something different excursion wise, there was very little to do or see there with Royal caribbean.

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We have family living in Dubai so we go every late January , spend some time with them and then either do the UAE 7 night cruise or go of to Bangkok or Sri Lanka for a week stay put to recover from the 4 boys!!! We have done the cruise 4 times, once with RCI and 3 times with MSC. We do flight only to Dubai return and then cruise only. Muscat is a lovely place and the people really friendly. Khasab is rubbish really. Not worth getting off the ship. I think Oceana is doing 2 days in Abu Dhabi. This is too much. 1 day is plenty to do the Grand Mosque (a must), the Emirates Palace hotel and the heritage village. Basically Abu Dhabi is a commercial city, much more so than Dubai. This year we went up to Bahrain on MSC and that was really interesting.

The best time to go is Feb/March. January can be a bit dodgy as it can be quite cool and they do have some rain. At all costs avoid going to this part of the world in June, July and August unless you like +50 heat and 100% humidity.

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Whilst it's most interesting to note P&O plan a new UAE itinerary nobody should lose sight of the fact it's designed to combat falling profits. Those who have cruised regularly with P&O over say the last 10 years would readily recognise progressive and significant reduction in both quality and service during these years. The quality food and silver service in all major dining venues has been replaced by something more akin to butlins holiday camps of years long since past. On board entertainment has gone from having major individual star acts with the on board crew being the warm up act to the theater cmpany now being almost the sole form of entertainment. All in all a progressive policy of cost reduction to sustain profit levels. This continued and negative policy will prove to be very detrimental to both P&O and its shareholders unless somebody wakes up to both reality and actually listens to cruisers opinions and general views.

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On 3/26/2017 at 7:21 PM, J.I.S. said:

Whilst it's most interesting to note P&O plan a new UAE itinerary nobody should lose sight of the fact it's designed to combat falling profits. Those who have cruised regularly with P&O over say the last 10 years would readily recognise progressive and significant reduction in both quality and service during these years. The quality food and silver service in all major dining venues has been replaced by something more akin to butlins holiday camps of years long since past. On board entertainment has gone from having major individual star acts with the on board crew being the warm up act to the theater cmpany now being almost the sole form of entertainment. All in all a progressive policy of cost reduction to sustain profit levels. This continued and negative policy will prove to be very detrimental to both P&O and its shareholders unless somebody wakes up to both reality and actually listens to cruisers opinions and general views.

Whilst I agree with your comments on the entertainment, I disagree with the point you make about the overall experience being akin to a butlins holiday camp. I find that a little harsh. 

I agree that P&O have dropped the ball in some areas but I don't believe they deserve the hammer they constantly receive. Rival cruise lines applying similar strategies but it is often P&O that are hit with the hardest criticism. My opinion on it is this: The cruising market has expanded so much that there are now a vast array of cruise lines to choose from, catering to all tastes. If P&O no longer tick the boxes you require then look elsewhere and you will not struggle to find a company that will. Meanwhile P&O will continue to run as they see fit. 

As for the cost reductions to sustain profit levels, if you were running a business and that appeared to be your sole viable option to ensure you remained competitive within an ever-increasing market, would you not do it too? I would certainly have taken issue with them if they'd gone about it in a different way but what more can we ask of them when it comes to pricing? They're completely transparent with us now on pricing. There are three levels you can choose to book, we all know what each of those include and we know they will be available on EVERY cruise. You book early and take the early booking benefits or you bide your time and go for the Late Saver, sacrificing choice on certain factors but making up for it with a discounted price. I strongly believe that if pricing was higher, there would still be complaints, but that it was too high or too expensive rather than it being this way. Other cruise lines still swing from one campaign to the next, changing their offerings every month or sometimes at the drop of a hat. P&O do not do that. We know what to expect with them so whilst they could learn a lot from other lines when it comes to entertainment (as it is dreadful these days in comparison), other lines could learn a lot from them when it comes to transparency and being upfront with their passengers over pricing options.

No matter what they do, it's impossible to please everyone.

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Can I ask you one simple question J.I.S you make reference to keeping the shareholders happy. If P&O were to increase its fares to recreate the high standards you mention rather than remain competitive in the market place with fares that have reduced in real terms over the past few years, would this have a detrimental decrease in passenger numbers that would mean loss of profit /revenue and ultimately a reduction in share holder dividends. Where do they draw the line ??

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Some interesting comments. P&O prices have become very low but does this in all honesty reflect the product they are offering. Yes they do come in for harsh comments but is that not from people who have sailed with them and their expectations have not been met. One of the problems I personally see is that P&O spend a fortune on advertising an up market product, look at the TV adverts with Rob Brydon, when the truth is they are at the lower end of the market. P&O up until the late 2,000's offered a traditional cruise product to a very loyal following. They then launched Ventura which did not receive the best publicity due to a New Years Eve cruise which erupted into trouble.     http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/4039825.Yobs_blamed_for_ruining_Ventura_cruise/

This was followed by Azura and then Britannia, regulars complained of falling standards and now they are waiting delivery of one of the largest cruise ships in the world. You read now of regulars who are expressing dissatisfaction.  I pass no comment other than to say I think there are other cruise lines that do it better for a similar price. We have friends who were staunch P&O followers, loved taking free booze on board and getting 10% off what they spent. I tempted them away when they complained of 'Falling Standards'. They now realise what they have been missing over the years. They are now getting true freebies with the new loyalty club such as wi-fi and drinks rather than having to spend more money to get a discount. How many others will follow suit!!! It will be interesting to see where they are in the market place in 5 years time!!! As always, just my thoughts.

 

Edited by Oldworldtraveller
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I strongly agree with you OWT that there are cruise lines that do it better now, Celebrity certainly being one of them in my book. You do tend to find Celebrity are of a higher price than P&O though and I'd expect Celebrity to be of a better standard as it's how they present themselves overall. 

Re the advertising of P&O, yes they do spend a vast amount of money on it, both on frontal advertising strategies like their tv spots with Rob Brydon but also their online presence. I've noticed a huge increase in their remarketing approach lately and I'm often followed round online when looking at other sites by a P&O banner. That said, other line do this to equal measures, as do agents these days too. I disagree with the comment on them marketing themselves as an up-market product. Obviously it's all down to perception and open to interpretation but I find those Rob Brydon adverts to be very cheesy and actually undervaluing the product of P&O. They come across as though they are that extra cut above an everday land-based holiday but not so much an "up-market" product. The up-market products such as Silversea, Seabourn and Crystal adopt the approach of less is more when it comes to flush marketing like tv spots. You barely ever see them on tv, if ever with some of them as it would take away the prestige of the products they offer, much like you never see an advertisement on tv for Aston Martin or Bentley. Instead these cruise lines adopt a personalised approach, often using direct mail or email marketing to contact existing and potential new customers using a highly strategic segmented approach.

it's for this reason that reason that I don't think P&O position themselves on tv as an up-market product. Rather just a regular reminder to the British people that they're there, and a way of differentiating themselves from others with the character of Rob Brydon but also cementing their place in people's minds as objectively British.

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Having just recently returned from a 7 night Arabian Gulf cruise on board Vision of the Seas with RCI, I would love to do this Itinerary again. Although I have to agree Khasab isn't a great port with not much to offer. I got an absolute bargain on this cruise paying only £650pp for the cruise, flights and transfers, I would happily pay this again, although P&O's prices are quite a bit more and only 3 days longer!

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4 hours ago, sammy sun said:

it's for this reason that reason that I don't think P&O position themselves on tv as an up-market product. Rather just a regular reminder to the British people that they're there, and a way of differentiating themselves from others with the character of Rob Brydon but also cementing their place in people's minds as objectively British.

Good reply sammy sun. The reason I say they try and portray themselves as 'upmarket' is simply on what Brydon portrays, the 'Iced Martini's' 'Glazed Scallops' that man 'Pierre White' and others which I feel many would associate with upmarket. However as I always say, just my opinion.

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Well P&O (Carnival)must be doing something right.  The share price as of today is 45.7.  We bought at something like 26 a few years ago.  My husband looks at the share price but really we keep the shares to get the on board credit.  I would have classed P&O as middle of the range, some people may not agree but I would put them above Thomson and below Cunard.  We are still very happy with their product and will continue to cruise with them as long as we are happy.  I agree that Rob Brydon shows a more upmarket view - whether he is worth what they're paying him only P&O know.  They keep doing new adverts so I can only suppose the company thinks it's worth it.

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Sometimes brand image can make a company very successful and the only way to do this for most is mass media advertising, I was reading an interesting article in a magazine comparing some major brands with a cheaper alternative and in a lot of cases when the products were road tested most couldnt see the difference, so whilst the advertising budget must be massive it must bring people to the product.

We never see Cunard on adverts though!!

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29 minutes ago, Annieuk said:

Well P&O (Carnival)must be doing something right.  The share price as of today is 45.7.  We bought at something like 26 a few years ago.  My husband looks at the share price but really we keep the shares to get the on board credit.  I would have classed P&O as middle of the range, some people may not agree but I would put them above Thomson and below Cunard.  We are still very happy with their product and will continue to cruise with them as long as we are happy.  I agree that Rob Brydon shows a more upmarket view - whether he is worth what they're paying him only P&O know.  They keep doing new adverts so I can only suppose the company thinks it's worth it.

Like you Annieuk I too have Carnival shares and am always happy to see them rise. It should however be remembered that P&O make up a very small part of Carnival Corp. which operates 10 brands with 105 ships so their input is quite small with their current 7 ships (Adonia being still shown under Fathom)

Another share holding I believe is worth having, or at least it has been for me is RCI. Risen from $70.09 to todays $98.11 since last September. Maybe time to sell:)

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On 3/30/2017 at 5:41 PM, Oldworldtraveller said:

Good reply sammy sun. The reason I say they try and portray themselves as 'upmarket' is simply on what Brydon portrays, the 'Iced Martini's' 'Glazed Scallops' that man 'Pierre White' and others which I feel many would associate with upmarket. However as I always say, just my opinion.

I agree that the footage used of Brydon on those adverts does not reflect the reality of a P&O Cruise. It's sort of a mismatch really because the things he is doing and the food and drink he is enjoying reflects that of a luxurious experience but the way Rob Brydon portrays it is not. It's counter productive if you ask me. I do still think that the overall aim of the TV campaign is to show a strong sense of 'Britishness' ( I may have made that word up :P) . I think they're attempting to overcome the cognitive dissonance that many of their passengers are experiencing in recent times by shining the light on their British nature in an attempt to fully differentiate themselves to their American counterparts and hammer home the message to British passengers that "nobody knows what you want more than we do".

Of course this is just my opinion and although I do believe that this is their intended message with their tv campaign, I don't believe that they get it right. In fact I think far from it. They had the opportunity to create something more suave, sophisticated and stylish yet they opted for a cheesy reflection of their on board experience with a tip of the cap to luxuries such as the things mentioned by OWT in the ads. Choose a strategy and go for it, don't sit on the fence. A more elegant ad would have reassured loyalists that they are taking their opinions seriously but also given a strong message to new to cruise passengers that they are still capable of being a strong, luxurious cruise brand name rather than appearing like a poor attempt to keep pace with Royal Caribbean and NCL's entertainment offerings. It's a more 'Carry On Cruising' ad than that of a thriving brand.  

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23 hours ago, cruise chef said:

Sometimes brand image can make a company very successful and the only way to do this for most is mass media advertising, I was reading an interesting article in a magazine comparing some major brands with a cheaper alternative and in a lot of cases when the products were road tested most couldnt see the difference, so whilst the advertising budget must be massive it must bring people to the product.

We never see Cunard on adverts though!!

I agree with your point Cruise Chef. Brand image is crucial for a company, especially when looking to grow into a market or reaffirm their position as a leader of that market. I disagree however that the only way to do this is through mass media advertising. There is no doubt that it can be successful. You only need to look at Viking River Cruises as an example of this. It can also go the other way though. It all depends on the brand image you're trying to portray. Viking needed to grow their name rapidly in an attempt to reach the pinnacle of the river cruise market as soon as possible. They had the foresight to see that it was going to be a race to the line approach to become the first brand name people think of when considering a river cruise and so they opted for a heavy media presence in order to get there. The important thing to remember however was that they had the product to back it up and where already a strong brand prior to going for broke within the media. P&O are certainly a strong brand but they were in a different position to Viking when going out with their new tv ads. Firstly they were in a tremendously congested and competitive market already, no longer holding the presence they previously enjoyed. They were also in a position where their ability to provide the same cruise experience as they did in the past has been regularly questioned and therefore they found themselves under more pressure than ever before to deliver a strong ad campaign to sway the tide. With that in mind they clearly reached out to Rob Brydon, someone the British people (well most I'd guess) consider to be a friendly face on camera, welcoming, charming and holds a good perception in the eye of the people. They took that though and portrayed him more as Uncle Bryn from Gavin & Stacey than a regular guy looking for a new holiday experience. They dummed him down, made it cheesy and took away many of the positives they could have achieved from it. 

Other cruise lines have proved that sometimes less is more. Cunard really opt for this approach but when they do, they get it right. The same applies for Royal Caribbean and for Celebrity Cruises. This is because they are clear on who they are, how they want their brand to be perceived and the message they want to put across. In my opinion P&O aren't 100% sure of any of those and it's evident in their advertisements.

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You make , as always, some excellent points sammy sun.

There are 62 cruise lines in the market place of which, during the summer months, 12 will this year operate from ports in the south of England. Of these 12 the only one that advertises to any length is P&O. The others don't, yet manage to have a high sailing occupancy. Some might ask why this is. To me the answer is simple, passengers believe that others do it better and if they are more expensive then it would appear they are prepared to pay that extra amount to get something they enjoy. Undercutting the opposition is not always the way forward. People who cruise look upon it as a vacation that offers that little bit extra above land based holidays. Good food, excellent service, quality entertainment, different destinations and several other features.  

My question is simply this, if P&O spent the advertising money on providing what passengers want and expect, would more people sail with them? As always, just my thoughts.

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34 minutes ago, Oldworldtraveller said:

You make , as always, some excellent points sammy sun.

There are 62 cruise lines in the market place of which, during the summer months, 12 will this year operate from ports in the south of England. Of these 12 the only one that advertises to any length is P&O. The others don't, yet manage to have a high sailing occupancy. Some might ask why this is. To me the answer is simple, passengers believe that others do it better and if they are more expensive then it would appear they are prepared to pay that extra amount to get something they enjoy. Undercutting the opposition is not always the way forward. People who cruise look upon it as a vacation that offers that little bit extra above land based holidays. Good food, excellent service, quality entertainment, different destinations and several other features.  

My question is simply this, if P&O spent the advertising money on providing what passengers want and expect, would more people sail with them? As always, just my thoughts.

I think you're quite right with that OWT. I too think that if they reallocated some of their budget away from marketing and directed it towards improving the overall on board experience, or even a specific section of it such as dining or entertainment alone, it would be a dramatic improvement. You can spend all the money in the world on mass marketing to get people to sample your product but if the product is fundamentally flawed then they aren't going to return and even worse, they aren't going to speak highly of it to their friends, family, colleagues etc. The right marketing approach can be great but it's useful is the product is no good because the most powerful tool is still word of mouth. Word of mouth is viral, it spreads rapidly and there's nothing you can do to stop it. If it's positive then it can take a brand name to the next level but if it's negative, it can destroy reputations that have taken years to build. That's what's happening with P&O right now. Their brand name is losing value ever day in the eyes of the consumer and instead of addressing the problem, their focusing on the symptoms instead.

I genuinely believe they've looked at their rivals gather momentum over the past 5 years or so and instead of having a calm head, they've panicked into trying many different ways to stem the tide instead of singling out the key area they needed to improve; the product itself. I like Rob Brydon a lot but he's got a massive job on if they want him to fix all of their problems in one swift tv campaign.

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I do feal that the Tv advert is trying to portray P&O as an upmarket brand,but to me the reality is not quite the same.In the last 10 years or so there has been a gradual decline in all aspects of the cruise experience!.From what I have read about other cruise lines offerings ,cost cutting to maximise profit is a cruise company worldwide experience.

We love cruising though & will sail with P&O again even if things aren't what they used to be,because the up market cruise lines are out of our financial grasp!.

 

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The current advertising campaign with Brydon is just not doing things right ,it does not portray cruising which new customers want to see.

I totally agree with other posters,some of this marketing budget should be used to reduce cuts and falling standards on the ship's.

The best easiest cheapest and most effective form of advertising is word of mouth from satisfied customers.

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Posters make good and varied points, but as there is such intense competition now the lines have to try and distinguish there offering from others. RCI major on 'free'drinks; CMV on BOGOF deals whilst P&O go for sensible pricing (with OBC for Select fares) and regular travellers will know what they get. The bottom line however is that whichever deal you go for, the 'free' extras are being paid for somewhere in the deal, so you pays your money and takes your choice depending on the things which matter to you.

It will be interesting to see how the NCL experiment of 'Premium All Inclusive' works out. We have already got an NCL booked for Autumn next year (as well as one in June this year) and took a quick look at how the new deal worked out compared with what we already had which included the drinks and speciality dining package. Effectively the new inclusive deal kept the drinks, removed the gratuities and also removed the speciality dining package which we have. There are a few other minor extras, such as free speciality coffees with meals, but we prefer to take our coffee in the Atrium where it is still chargeable. The bottom line is that I calculate that the new deal is more expensive - our existing price (incl grats) £2355 - new deal £2569 showing an increase of £214, plus £60 for the lost dining package, so a total of £274 pp extra. The new deal, I am told, also includes an introductory discount of £200, so the real difference could be £474 - a 20% increase!

 

How will the market react? Let's wait and see!

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As P&O Ligurian members why do we travel so extensively with P&O, yes it's budget cruising but for us with 20 minutes travel to the port and there's amost always a P & O ship in Southampton, best we've had is a booking three days before sailing. As we no longer fly this cuts down the number of cruising options. All in all, average food, rubbish entertainment and at a bargain basement price. Cunard for the extra cost is not much better for food or entetrtainment.

Joining Britannia on Sunday, anyone else around?

John & Sandra Hall

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Some very interesting comments.  However, I think some of the comments are portraying P&O as going downhill, for example - their brand name losing value everyday in people's eyes.  I'm not sure where this evaluation comes from.  Don't forget the number of people who post on forums like this one are very small compared to the number of people who actually cruise with P&O.  P&O must be doing something right to fill the number of ships that they do and have another very large ship on the horizon.  Yes things have changed and I assume they will continue to change.  Will we all like all the changes - no of course not.  I must admit I wonder what we will do when the likes of Aurora, Oriana, Oceana and Adonia disappear as these are the ships we prefer to sail on.  However, younger cruisers are demanding more, hence the larger ships with more on offer.  No advertising can appeal to everyone.  There will be those who like Rob Brydon and like his adverts.  Maybe each of us tends to like things as they were when we first cruised - for us with P&O it was on the old Adonia (Sea Princess) in 2005, having sailed previously with Fred Olsen.  Yes P&O have to look to the future and to attract new passengers but they still have to appeal to those older cruisers who are retired and can cruise at any time of the year and for longer periods of time.  They cannot afford to write them off.

Do I still get excited at the thought of another P&O cruise - do I still feel that thrill when I step board - no matter which ship it is?  Yes I do.  As long as I feel that and as long as I enjoy the P&O product I will continue to sail with them and I suppose it's probably like that for the majority of people who go with P&O.  Would I like to try a more upmarket cruise - well we've been on Cunard and were not particularly impressed.  I'm not inclined to try Celebrity as the impression I get is of a more expensive cruise with some advantages over P&O though not a huge number - only an impression and I admit I may be wrong.  The cruise lines I'd like to try if we can afford it are Seabourn and Regent and possibly Oceania but the that's a whole different ball game!

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Firstly, going back to the original topic, I can understand why P&O have chosen to do this.  People have been asking for something new for several years and this is a decent option for them.  It is a reliable winter sun destination which is not too long a flight time.  The itineraries have been tried and trusted by a number of other cruise lines and so there is a good infrastructure in place.  Personally I find it quite tempting but then have to balance that with my own moral code.  Sadly for me, I don't think I can support countries with such poor human rights records and total disregard for other cultures' values and lifestyles.

With regard to the comments about P&O's falling standards, I have been cruising with them since 1997 and yes, standards have fallen and everything has changed.  I would like the standards of 1997 but then to get that, would probably need to cruise with someone like Oceania - who are considerably more expensive than P&O.  Different aspects of loyalty schemes appeal to different people.  I for instance would place no value at all on free internet or a stocked bar in my cabin.

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