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Are P&O Cruises at risk of being left behind?


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Norwegian Bliss looks amazing, Royal Caribbean release a new ship every week it seems these days and Celebrity are about to release their new Edge Class, which looks pretty special too. So are P&O Cruises in danger of slipping down the pecking order for British cruisers?

 

 

 

They’ve always been known as “Britain’s favourite cruise line” but can we honestly say that will still be the case in a few years time if they don’t make moves to keep up with the rising stars mentioned before.

 

 

 

They’ve got the new ship coming in 2020 and I think there’s a lot riding on them getting this right. I know think they realise it too, possibly explaining the switch from Fincantieri to Meyer Werft having seen so many stunning ships created for their rivals. They need to make a bold move to start appealing to the younger market or they risk losing many new cruise passengers to other brands. 

 

 

 

Are they losing their appeal or as strong as ever?

 

 

 

Edited by Mermaid Jessica
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From what I saw on our last 2 cruises P&O have a good following ,But for my money even now are well behind with their ships ,compared to others.

I Love Britannia ,and would not sail on Azura or Ventura again, but when I said that to someone they looked horrified, "our Favourite Ships" On Ventura the food was awful by any standards ,one Lady chastised us for saying it,Aparently we were all moaners ,and should shut up? 

Not matter how bad P&O are the loyal fans will sail with them.....Davybe

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Will be castigated for saying but having cruised with P&O since 2000 and done nearly 30 cruises in the past with them and seeing the decline in standards and yes price they are becoming Benidorm at sea. Would be much happier paying a higher price if they went back to early 2000 year standards. Many go just because of habit and convenience of sailing from Southampton, there are those that even though they have never sailed with anyone else think they are the best and there are those that want to cruise as cheap as possible and not bothered about high standards of food just cheap booze i.e. Benidorm brigade.

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The problem for P&O is that they have been around a long, long time and have a loyal following.  Cruising has changed out of all recognition over the last 10 years and now P&O are trying to appeal to their older, loyal following and a younger, newer clientele at the same time.  This is causing them a few headaches I think.  I can only use my own experience.  I had 2 cruises on P&O last year and enjoyed the experience on both, feeling that both food and entertainment were to a good standard.  Both my cruises were on the smaller ships - Aurora & Oriana - and I would hazard a guess that maybe standards could be a bit higher on these ships than the larger ones.  No, it is not as good as it was in the year 2000 but to have those standards, they would have to increase prices significantly,

In January I sailed on Marella cruises' Discovery 2 and thought the food aboard that was considerably inferior to that on P&O last year.   Not only was the food a poorer quality in my opinion, it was only three very small courses at dinner for instance.  Yes, Marella are cheaper than P&O but the gap (with the exception of suite categories) is very much narrowing. Purely my opinion but if you want the "Benidorm Brigade", try Marella.  That is probably not fair to many of the pax on Marella but my experience of the line was a lot nearer to 'Benidorm' than either Aurora & Oriana last year.

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34 minutes ago, afcandrew said:

The problem for P&O is that they have been around a long, long time and have a loyal following.  Cruising has changed out of all recognition over the last 10 years and now P&O are trying to appeal to their older, loyal following and a younger, newer clientele at the same time.  This is causing them a few headaches I think.  I can only use my own experience.  I had 2 cruises on P&O last year and enjoyed the experience on both, feeling that both food and entertainment were to a good standard.  Both my cruises were on the smaller ships - Aurora & Oriana - and I would hazard a guess that maybe standards could be a bit higher on these ships than the larger ones.  No, it is not as good as it was in the year 2000 but to have those standards, they would have to increase prices significantly,

In January I sailed on Marella cruises' Discovery 2 and thought the food aboard that was considerably inferior to that on P&O last year.   Not only was the food a poorer quality in my opinion, it was only three very small courses at dinner for instance.  Yes, Marella are cheaper than P&O but the gap (with the exception of suite categories) is very much narrowing. Purely my opinion but if you want the "Benidorm Brigade", try Marella.  That is probably not fair to many of the pax on Marella but my experience of the line was a lot nearer to 'Benidorm' than either Aurora & Oriana last year.

Whilst I probably agree with your sentiments but as these two ships are now in the minority and with the chance of possibly Oriana on its way out with the arrival of the new ship then taking into account of Britannia, Azura and Ventura  I stand by my statement regarding appealing to the Benidorm brigade.

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3 hours ago, sinbad10 said:

Whilst I probably agree with your sentiments but as these two ships are now in the minority and with the chance of possibly Oriana on its way out with the arrival of the new ship then taking into account of Britannia, Azura and Ventura  I stand by my statement regarding appealing to the Benidorm brigade.

I suspect it depends on the time of year and the type of cruise you pick, as to whether you meet any "Benidorm" passengers.  Fortunately we rarely encounter any on our cruises, but we do cruise mainly outside the main holiday periods, however our cruises are mainly on the bigger ships because they have better disabled facilities.  I imagine some people can find Benidorm behaviour in any number of passengers, if that's all they have to occupy them whilst on holiday.

 

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We've been to Benidorm twice - both times in February. It was lovely with beautiful, quiet beaches, a lovely old town & mainly Spanish & British pensioners enjoying the sunshine & mild weather. We really enjoyed both visits but said that we really wouldn't want to go there in high season.

Like with cruising you have to go at the right time for you & for us that's out of school holiday time.

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5 minutes ago, cruise chef said:

If it wasnt for the loyal British following they would be  struggling to fill 1 ship let alone 7, looking at some of the other brands new ships that are being released they are looking very bland and not moving with the times.

Whilst I agree with your assessment that P&O ships are bland compared to their main rivals,  I disagree that they are struggling to fill their ships anymore than all the other cruise lines. 

As someone who no longer flies I would have to accept that if Princess, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, NCL etc offered a similar range of varied itineraries from Southampton at competitive pricing, then I would probably book far less cruises with P&O.  But the US lines concentrate their UK sailings on offering what their US customers prefer, which is Baltic and Fjords cruises, and their hot weather cruises all seem to include Rome and Florence.

However I do hope that P&O's 2 new ships will have more wow factor about them than bland Britannia, and I am looking forward to seeing if their other new features live up to the hype of their press releases.

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On 4/28/2018 at 9:08 AM, cruise chef said:

If it wasnt for the loyal British following they would be  struggling to fill 1 ship let alone 7, looking at some of the other brands new ships that are being released they are looking very bland and not moving with the times.

It isn't really surprising that P&O's passenger base has a large "loyal British following" - they have been selling sea voyages and cruises to British people for 180 years.  They market themselves as a British Cruise Line and do almost no marketing outside of the UK.

As you say, their new ships may be bland compared to some of the other new ships being introduced but you have to look at where they place themselves in the market.  They are not particularly bland compared to Princess, Holland America, Cunard or Marella.  They are probably 'bland' compared to Royal Caribbean, NCL and possibly the new MSC builds.  It is a big market and there is room for all sorts of styles.

I would choose P&O, Princess, HAL or Cunard over RCI, NCL or MSC any day.  Some of us prefer what others see as bland :D.

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19 minutes ago, afcandrew said:

It isn't really surprising that P&O's passenger base has a large "loyal British following" - they have been selling sea voyages and cruises to British people for 180 years.  They market themselves as a British Cruise Line and do almost no marketing outside of the UK.

As you say, their new ships may be bland compared to some of the other new ships being introduced but you have to look at where they place themselves in the market.  They are not particularly bland compared to Princess, Holland America, Cunard or Marella.  They are probably 'bland' compared to Royal Caribbean, NCL and possibly the new MSC builds.  It is a big market and there is room for all sorts of styles.

I would choose P&O, Princess, HAL or Cunard over RCI, NCL or MSC any day.  Some of us prefer what others see as bland :D.

I have no experience of HAL or Cunard but I disagree with you linking Princess with P&O bland, anyone who has experience of sailing on Royal, Regal and Britannia will testify to that.

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1 minute ago, towny44 said:

I have no experience of HAL or Cunard but I disagree with you linking Princess with P&O bland, anyone who has experience of sailing on Royal, Regal and Britannia will testify to that.

I guess it depends on the definition of 'bland'.  I am assuming that in this case it refers to innovative facilities as opposed to decor.

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Call me old fashioned but I like P&O smaller ships, I don’t want water slides, big screens round the pool areas, large Casinos, climbing walls, etc. I must therefore like bland, I want a crusing holiday that is relaxing and visiting ports of interest. Not a floating butlins.

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1 hour ago, afcandrew said:

I guess it depends on the definition of 'bland'.  I am assuming that in this case it refers to innovative facilities as opposed to decor.

 Not the facilities  but definitely the interior design and decor, the Grand Princess ships are very similar to Ventura and Azura, but the latter just lack that little bit of pizazz that Princess give their ships.

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3 hours ago, towny44 said:

 Not the facilities  but definitely the interior design and decor, the Grand Princess ships are very similar to Ventura and Azura, but the latter just lack that little bit of pizazz that Princess give their ships.

That is mainly down to the differing taste between American and the British. The Americans prefer the glitz and glamour that is viewable on all their ships.

Edited by sinbad10
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Not to everyone taste I know but look at the accommodation ,then the choice of eating places so much to do in one place,Maybe not for some of you ,but younger families may prefer this to what P&O have to offer, Deck Quotes and shuffle boards have a limited appeal when you see what other ships offer......Davybe

Edited by Davybe
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Thanks for posting that Davy - it is likely to be the only time I ever see this ship - a very comprehensive tour.  I certainly can see the attraction for large or young families but for me, it is an absolute nightmare.  It seems to be a cross between a theme park and Las Vegas - neither of which could I spend a week in.  I think I would be desperate to get off after a week.  Whilst quite a few of the public rooms look good, many of the areas of the ship seem to have migraine-inducing colour schemes to me.  The standard cabins are nothing special but the higher grades look good.  The top suites are lovely but would never be in my price range (or many other's).  One thing I would really welcome on other lines' ships is the "virtual balcony" inside cabin concept.

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Sorry, but having watched a old episode of hi d hi yesterday I thought oh yes that. What this reminds me of, only my opinion of cause, and holiday camps were very very popular then we moved on to All inclusive holidays all over the place, now it seems Cruises have become popular.

perhaps the ultimate is holiday came come all inclusive come theam Park, and cruise.

I have been left behind I like a nice cruise, good ports, few sea days to watch the world go by maybe a dolphin or two read my book in the sun chat to like minded people if the odd meal is not so, good because it stops me eating too much, I /we go on holiday to relax not go hunting for things to fault.

as always Just my opinion

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For me this whole thread furthers my opinion that I have stated many times on this forum before. Not every cruise can meet the demands of every passenger. There are different cruise lines for different people and we all like what we like so we are extremely fortunate to have so many options to choose from.

As for P&O, there was a line from a film not long ago that "you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain", as cheesy as it sounds, I think this works pretty well for P&O too. They've been championed for so many years as the leading British cruise line and the only cruise line you should ever consider that all of a sudden, especially over the past decade, they have been caught up and for many, overtaken. 

What was once celebrated about them is now criticised but it all comes down to personal opinion and the only reason this criticism is taking place is because, as always, time moves on. The world keeps turning and people will always be looking to the next big thing. For P&O this was the evolution of Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. They've come in and raised the bar in the eyes of many cruisers. Then there's NCL with there 'Freestyle Cruising' boasting zero dress codes. The previous strengths of P&O are now seen as tired and rigid, in need of modernisation. Whether this is true or not it will always come down to opinion.

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My opinion is that P&O have had to make changes in order to keep up with the innovative technology that has been emerging around them for years but have failed to do so. They should have foreseen these potential threats and put plans in place to combat them but I believe they relied too heavily on the belief that tradition would always carry through and that most potential passengers would always come back to the core strengths they have built over the years rather than innovative gimmicks such as zip-wires and dodgems on board. Sadly, I think they were mistaken and missed the boat (terrible pun). They had the opportunity years ago to split their brand into two segments, one for the intimate comforts of smaller ships and the other for bolder family ship builds. They tried to do this and failed. Let's hope the new ships on the horizon make a difference otherwise I fear for the direction of the brand going forward.

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19 hours ago, sammy sun said:

My opinion is that P&O have had to make changes in order to keep up with the innovative technology that has been emerging around them for years but have failed to do so. They should have foreseen these potential threats and put plans in place to combat them but I believe they relied too heavily on the belief that tradition would always carry through and that most potential passengers would always come back to the core strengths they have built over the years rather than innovative gimmicks such as zip-wires and dodgems on board. Sadly, I think they were mistaken and missed the boat (terrible pun). They had the opportunity years ago to split their brand into two segments, one for the intimate comforts of smaller ships and the other for bolder family ship builds. They tried to do this and failed. Let's hope the new ships on the horizon make a difference otherwise I fear for the direction of the brand going forward.

I think P&O as a company would move forwards with more unto date ship, but their passengers may not like it.You could say the same regarding Cunard,they and P&O were still having old fashion bathrooms ,in their new ships (Sticky Curtain's) when other lines were providing decent shower cubicles on their ships.

I do get the feeling that even on Britannia they tried to do it on the cheap in places, not well thought outing parts.Hope any new ships get uptown date....Davybe

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I take your point that some might not like it Davybe and I think you're right but there's no truer saying in life than "you can't please everyone". It's impossible. So therefore you would imagine they'd play the percentages and look at what they're trying to achieve. Once they've done that they can cater to that market. It's quite clear at the moment that this target market is younger generations, particularly new to cruise passengers. Royal Caribbean have hit them hard in recent years I'd say and they need to do something drastic in order to keep up appearances.

I agree that they do, on the surface, appear as though they cut corners sometimes. The shower curtain example is a great one, and if they don't start getting the little things right, they've got no chance with the bigger things. 

I do think the change in shipyard has something to do with it. Fincantieri has been the P&O shipbuilder of choice for a while now so to make the move to Meyer Werft at this time would suggest they're either not happy with what Fincantieri have produced or Meyer Werft were simply more cost-effective. I would suspect the former, especially as they've watched Meyer Werft churn out some incredible ships for their rivals. I wonder if they've adopted the 'if you can't beat them, join them" philosophy".

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My answer to this topics question would be "yes". They've already fallen behind in my opinion, in fact there in danger of falling even further behind if they don't buck their ideas up soon. By that I'm talking about their ships. Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, NCL are all what I'd say to be rivals of P&O and they're all producing ships of a much higher standard than P&O.

They need to sort things out quick or they'll continue to look like a second-rate choice, which is a shame considering their past.

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