U.K.-based P&O Cruises is breaking tradition and shaking up its winter programme. It has announced that its 69,153-ton, 1,828-passenger Oriana will not sail a world cruise, as is customary, in 2010. Instead, the Brit line will replace the three-month circumnavigation with a duo of ex-U.K. Caribbean sailings.
The two five-week cruises will sail roundtrip from Southampton -- good picks for those not in favour of a fly-cruise.
The first leaves the U.K. port on 8 January, 2010, and spends 36 nights visiting Caribbean and Central American ports such as St. Lucia, Barbados and Limon. Prices start at £2,499 per person.
The second, a 35-night cruise, will leave Southampton on 13 February, 2010, and will take in the Caribbean as well as some U.S. ports including New Orleans and Tampa. There is also a partial transit through the Panama Canal. This cruise starts at £2,399 per person.
P&O Cruises isn't the only Brit line bringing winter cruise departures back to the U.K. Just last month, Fred. Olsen announced that it would be reducing its Caribbean fly-cruise programme onboard Boudicca by basing the ship in Southampton, rather than Barbados, for a 28-night Caribbean roundtrip in winter 2009/10.
Fred. Olsen cited rising fuel and operating costs as the reason.
P&O Cruises' official statement didn't mention "fuel costs"; instead, Managing Director Nigel Esdale is quoted as saying the change will be a benefit to the traveller: "These new holidays will offer U.K. holidaymakers a more leisurely and relaxing way to escape the British winter and visit warmer climes. They will appeal to people who want a comprehensive exploration of the Caribbean, without having to set foot on an aeroplane, and to those who can't be away for such a long period of time as a world voyage."
P&O will still offer a world cruise programme in 2010, with Aurora and Arcadia each undertaking a voyage.
--by Kelly Ranson, U.K. Editor
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P&O Drops World Cruise for Ex-U.K. Caribbean Sailings
September 3, 2008