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A new Adonia for P&O

The big news for UK-based cruisers this week was the announcement that the Princess ship ‘Royal Princess’ will move to P&O in May 2011.

This ship has an interesting history. UK cruisers have some experience of her, of course: she sailed as Minerva II for Swan Hellenic from 2003 to 2007. Originally she was an ‘R’ ship – ‘R8’, in fact – and as R8 she sailed (along with her 7 siblings) for Renaissance Cruises, which was quite an up-market operation. All of the R ships were small, at just over 30,000 grt, and a passenger capacity of around 700, and Renaissance used them to provide a premium cruise experience. However they went broke very shortly after 9/11 and the R ships were laid up for a time. For a while individual ships were leased to various operators – this was the basis on which Swan Hellenic operated Minerva II. During this time Oceania Cruises was formed by former executives of Renaissance Cruises, and between 2002 and 2005 they chartered first one, then a second and ultimately a third of the R ships. In 2006, thanks to new finance following a takeover by a venture capital outfit, Oceania were able to buy their three ships. During this time they built up a committed and loyal customer base, and became a well-regarded operator within the industry.

Other major cruise lines then took a fresh look at the R ships. Princess, who had leased two of them in the 2002 to 2004 period, purchased those two. In 2007 Minerva II was redeployed from Swan Hellenic to Princess (both lines were owned by Carnival) and given the name ‘Royal Princess’. (Unfortunately, Swan Hellenic, the operator of Minerva II, was left with no ships and had to suspend operations.) Royal Caribbean were even more ambitious: they purchased Pullmantur, a Spanish-market cruise line who had acquired the last two of the R ships, then took these ships away from Pullmantur, and set up a completely new line, Azamara, to operate them. So these days there’s a lot of interest in these ships because Oceania especially, and perhaps Princess as well, have been able to use them to run quite expensive up-market cruises. Presumably the expectation is that P&O will be able to do the same.

When she goes to P&O, Royal Princess will be renamed ‘Adonia’ and will operate as the second adults-only ship in the P&O fleet (Arcadia being the first). There was a previous Adonia, of course: also a former Princess ship, Sea Princess, she sailed as Adonia between 2003 and 2005 before returning to Princess when Arcadia was launched. Also interesting is the fact that this is the second ship called ‘Royal Princess’ to leave Princess for P&O in recent years. The previous Royal Princess was launched under that name by Princess Diana in 1984, and sailed as such for Princess until 2005. At that date she was transferred to P&O and renamed Artemis (Artemis was the greek name for the goddess whose roman name was Diana – geddit?).

It will be interesting to see how P&O use their new ship. Carol Marlow, P&O MD, says this in her blog:

“Her smaller size will offer a more familiar and relaxed feeling and enable you to get to know your fellow cruisers and crew more easily. More importantly though, she will be able to travel to some of the most intriguing “off the beaten track” destinations, so you’ll still be able to visit ports that the bigger ships can’t access.” We should get some more information about Adonia’s likely itineraries in the spring.

Here’s a link to the P&O website with the details, and here’s another one to the website of the current incarnation of Swan Hellenic. which has recently been relaunched as an independent operator. Lord Sterling is its chairman; he, as I’m sure all my readers will know, was the last chairman of P&O/Princess Cruises before the merger with Carnival Corporation, and in fact opposed that merger. Now he’s back in the cruise business.

2 Responses to “A new Adonia for P&O”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dave Kirkland, Tom Rhoads. Tom Rhoads said: A new Adonia for P&O « Tom Burke's Blog http://bit.ly/7G6hxf […]

  2. […] new Adonia arrived in Southampton on Friday morning. (I blogged about her transfer to P&O in this post when it was announced in December 2009.) She was, apparently late arriving (due to bad weather […]

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