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Oceana berthed at Abu Dhabi

P&O have today announced that Oceana is leaving the P&O fleet. In practice, with the current pause this is happening immediately – the announcement says “this month”.

I’m not surprised by this. I have a feeling that this is all to do with Venice…. I’ll explain.

For the last several years there have been de-facto restrictions on the size of ships sailing into Venice – about 89,000 tons – and Oceana is within this limit. There’s some uncertainty as whether or not this regulation was actually still legally in force, but that didn’t matter – the Cruise Lines Industry Association announced that its members (which includes P&O) would would continue to observe the restriction, regardless of its strict legal validity.

For the last several years, Oceana has done summer fly-cruises out of Malta, some of which (about 1 in 3?) have included a call at Venice. These Mediterranean fly-cruises have proved very popular, and I’m sure that P&O would have loved to deploy a larger ship with more passengers on these itineraries, but the larger ships – Azura, Ventura, etc – are all too big for Venice. What’s changed is that in the face of the continuing protests about cruise ships, the accident involving the MSC ship last year, and possibly other issues, it looks as if the cruise lines are leaving Venice altogether. For example, Royal Caribbean announced a month or so ago that their itineraries on the eastern side of Italy would call at Ravenna in future and not at Venice, and I anticipate that they will be followed by others. I’ve been anticipating that P&O will make a similar announcement. Since in that case they would no longer be calling at Venice they could use one of their larger ships, and in the face of that Oceana begins to look a bit surplus to requirements.

There are two other ships in the P&O fleet that are within the regulations for Venice, Aurora and Arcadia, but they have been doing other itineraries. Indeed, in the last couple of years they have done distinctively different itineraries from the rest of the fleet. Whereas Oceana, Azura, Ventura and Britannia have been doing a standard set of voyages, often of shorter duration (and nothing longer than 14 nights), Aurora and Arcadia have been doing the sort of varied itineraries and durations that used to be the norm. I think, therefore, that Aurora and Arcadia will increasingly be positioned as offering a more traditional cruise experience, often for a longer duration. It’s also the case that these two ships are Adults-only, and I imagine that P&O have found that there’s a market for those.

We cruised on Oceana on our most recent cruise together, in September 2018. You can find my overall thoughts about that cruise here, while here is a link to all the detailed posts from the cruise. Then in February 2019 I went back to Oceana on my own, as part of a solo holiday in Asia and the Middle East, and here’s a link to a review of that cruise.

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