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P&O have just announced their sailings and dates for summer 2020. I’ve already received emails from several TAs, and I expect other people have as well. But here’s my brief analysis.

They seem to have moved away from the “each ship goes everywhere” model of previous years; instead, a given ship will be deployed in one particular area (with a couple of exceptions).

  • Iona, as we already knew, will spend the whole summer doing 7 night Norwegian fjord itineraries (I think the maiden voyage will be 9 nights);
  • Oceana will complete her winter 2019/20 fly-cruise Arabian Gulf itineraries and will then sail to Valletta to begin another summer of 7 and 14-night fly-cruises from there into the central Mediterranean – pretty much as she is doing this summer and next;
  • Ventura will spend summer 2020 doing a mixture of shorter (up to 7 nights, including some 2-nighters) and longer (typically 12 night) cruises from Southampton around the English Channel and out to the Canary Islands;
  • Azura will do a programme of 14 night cruises, alternating between the western Mediterranean and the Baltic;
  • Britannia will do almost nothing but 14 night western Mediterranean cruises from Southampton;

Arcadia and Aurora are the exceptions to the model above. They will both do programmes of often longer cruises to a variety of destinations:

  • Arcadia’s itineraries will include the western Mediterranean, the Canary Islands, the Baltic and a long trip to Canada. A lot of these cruises will be longer than 14 nights;
  • Aurora will do similar itineraries, although perhaps not quite as long as Arcadia’s.

Going back to a question I asked when Iona’s schedule became know – would any other P&O ships do cruises into the Fjords in summer 2020? – the answer seems to be ‘No’. Arcadia and Aurora both include Norway in their itineraries, but only visiting coastal posts, e.g. Andalsnes, Tromso, Narvik and Bergen or Stavanger, and only in the context of a cruise that also extends to Iceland. Only Iona will visit the fjords as such, to Olden and Geiranger. That would fit with Iona being cleaner than the other ships in the fleet thanks to her LNG propulsion system

Looking at the itineraries overall, I’m afraid that I think that the bulk of them look very ho-hum. I haven’t studied the itineraries for Arcadia and Aurora in detail – with their variety in both destination and length they may be more interesting. But the repeated cruises into the same areas for Azura, Britannia, Iona, Oceana and Ventura look very routine. Maybe I’m just jaded….. But I’ve been looking at Fred. Olsen’s itineraries, and I have to say that the mix of destinations they’re offering making good use of the small size of their ships, looks more interesting. And from regional ports, too.

2 Responses to “P&O Summer 2020 Schedules announced”

  1. Jason Hayes says:

    Hi tom. I don’t think you have commented yet on P&Os decision to make Iona exclusively freedom dining. Can’t say I’m impressed with that! Why pay select fare now if no dining time to worry about?

    • Tom Burke says:

      Thanks for the comment, Jason.

      That’s a good point, actually – Freedom Dining-only on Iona does reduce the pluses associated with a Select fare. I guess the only significant one left is being able to choose your cabin at the time of booking, but we don’t know how much of an advantage that will be on Iona. For example, on Ventura and Azura you couldn’t really expect to be assigned a C deck balcony cabin with a Saver fare even though they were officially the same grades as balcony cabins on other decks – so it was a good argument in favour of a Select fare for those, like us, who definitely wanted one of these cabins. But there was nothing like that on Britannia, the only remaining advantage was the choice of dining. Hmm – with Iona it’s all one dining style, and (presumably) all cabins of a given class will be effectively the same – you’re right, not much point in paying the Select fare!

      On-board Credit, perhaps? I haven’t studied the fares so I don’t know how generous that is on Iona for her first season.

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