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It’s nearly refit time for Oriana – she’s on her last cruise before it happens. There have been some issues over the summer – the refit completion date has been extended so a short program of two- and three-night cruises to show off the new features has had to be cancelled – and I think this has caused disappointment and bad publicity. However I can’t help feeling that it’s better to cancel the cruises with plenty of notice rather than have to do it the day before. Or worse still, sail with the ship still being worked on. I remember reading about QE2’s first cruise after her big refit in 1994 – it must have Cunard years to overcome that negative publicity.

And talking about Cunard, no sooner will Oriana be away from Blohm + Voss in Hamburg than Queen Mary 2 will be arriving. She’s also going in for a refit. This will include lots of refurbishment to the cabins, refurbished restaurants, a redesigned Golden Lion pub, and numerous other jobs.

It’s interesting to compare the two refits, not so much from a technical perspective as from a marketing one.
I get a feeling that the QM2 refit is largely a ‘wash and brushup’: the ship is only eight years old, she’s still regarded very highly, but they’ve notice some improvements that can be made. This refit will cement her standing as ‘the last great ocean liner’.

Oriana is in a different position, however. She’s now approaching middle-age – she will have been in service for 17 years next April. Worse, it’s been a dramatic period for cruise ships: Oriana was one of a group* of ships launched in the mid-90s whose design looked backwards, especially as regards passenger facilities. Very few balconies, no speciality restaurant (as built), cabins not very generously sized – she looks like a ship from a previous generation. I think that in her case P&O have decided that it is best to play to her strengths, such as the quality of her public rooms, and pitch them firmly to a market that will appreciate them and won’t mind to much that other things are missing. That means no families, so Oriana will become adults-only after the refit. She’ll also get a (very) small number of single cabins, which I’m certain will be popular. (I wonder when a cruise line will bite the bullet and create a ship with 10% or more of cabins as singles? – I’m sure the demand is there.)

Hopefully I’ll be able to find a source of pictures as the two refits continue.

* = I’d include Celebrity’s ‘Century’ class (Century, Galaxy, Mercury) in that list. They’ve now been modernised, mainly by hanging balconies off the sides, and I think they look like a dog’s dinner, externally at least.

One Response to “Refits”

  1. Frank Grasso says:

    Would like to see Oriana’s refit photos as they are done.

    Thanks frank.

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