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I did a post a couple of days ago about a trial to be held in Marseilles today (9 July 2018) of the Captain of Azura for a breach of the environmental regulations regarding sulphur pollution on March 29 in Marseilles.

I’ve been scouring the internet for updates, and I’ve learned that the case has been deferred until 9 October. I’m reading documents that have been through Google Translation so I can’t be 100% sure of what I’m reading, but this is what I think I’ve discovered:-

  • this is definitely a criminal case (previously I wasn’t certain that it wasn’t a civil case);
  • the maximum penalties are 1 year in prison and a €200,000 fine. I wasn’t sure if these were alternatives (“or”), but they can both be applied;
  • there’s a suggestion that the Captain didn’t appear today – instead, Carnival’s lawyers (Mes. Bertrand Coste and Patrick Simon) appeared before the court and made arguments and presentations;
  • and I gather that Carnival Corporation – presumably in the guise of its French subsidiary – are also joined to the action. This is new – previously only the Captain was indicted.

Indeed, I get a hint that it was the prosecution that asked for the deferral until October, as presumably they want to make further investigations for a possible case against Carnival Corp and not just the Captain. So it looks as if this is becoming a more serious affair.

One interesting thing – the Captain has not been named, in any document that I’ve read. As it happens I’ve worked out who I believe was the Azura’s Captain on 29 March; but seeing as there may be some French law over revealing the identity, I’m going to keep quiet as well.

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P&O have released some more teaser information about Iona. She’ll be their next mega-ship, due to join the fleet sometime in 2020. I’ve done some posts about her probable overall layout because she will be a close relation to other ships for which we already have details, but of course there will be differences in decor and fittings. Now P&O have given us some artists’ impressions and animations, here, of the Grand Atrium.

The Grand Atrium does look impressive. Having cruised on Britannia I enjoyed the atrium there, and much more so than on Ventura and Azura. The animation of the forthcoming Iona atrium looks as if it will be a large, open, multi-functional space, with what looks like a full, 3-deck height window. (For some reason that animation doesn’t run on my iMac but does on my PC – strange.)

Then there are some illustrations of spaces and facilities in or just off the atrium. There’ll be a Glass House – yes! – on deck 7, the middle level of the atrium. THere’s also a mention of something called Cellar Door at the Glass House. which will offer wine talks, tastings and wine-pairing dinners. I know we’ve enjoyed the wine-pairing dinners in the Glass House on Azura and Britannia, and it looks as if they are expanding that aspect of the concept.

 

A P&O Cruises first, the Keel & Cow is an unpretentious gastropub where food and drink have been crafted into something truly special

Next is something definitely new – an ‘unpretentious gastropub’ to be called “The Keel and Cow”. This will be on deck 8, and will offer food all day – breakfast, lunch and ‘hearty dishes’ in the evening.  There are specific mentions of beef & stout burger, beer-battered fish and triple-cooked chips, and black-pudding scotch eggs as examples of (presumably) hearty dishes. (My assumption is that this will be all be extra-cost.)

Next up is the Emerald Bar, “for evening glamour”, which I assume will be Iona’s equivalent of the Red Bar on Ventura and the Blue Bar on Azura and Britannia. This will be on deck 6, i.e at the lowest level of the atrium. Finally, and also on  deck 6, there will be Vista’s Cafe Bar, which will serve tea, coffee and snacks all day long “as well as a selection of tempting treats from … Eric Laniard”. That sounds like Java on the other ships, but interestingly there’s no explicit mention of either that name, nor of Costa Coffee.

And that’s not all! – there will additional fun in Vista’s. From mid-morning there will be pop-up entertainment, while from early “you’ll be delighted by impromptu aerial performances”. And there’s also a mention of bookshop.

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I’ve just come across a series of articles relating to an alleged breach of environmental legislation by Azura when she was in Marseilles on 29 March. Apparently she was found to be burning fuel of a higher concentration of sulphur than was allowed in the port – 1.68% instead of 1.5%. What’s most interesting is that the authorities in Marseilles are going to pursue the action. The captain – and I don’t at the moment know who was captain on Azura on 29 March, can someone help me with that? – was interviewed with an interpreter a few days later, and apparently admitted/agreed the details of the alleged offence. There was also a suggestion that he would be arrested on his next call at Marseilles, which was due in early June – I don’t know if that actually happened. However, proceedings against him – but not against P&O, who are not named in the action – will commence in court on 9 July, and that seems to be definite.

I’m not altogether clear as to the nature of the charge, or even whether it’s a criminal or civil case – most of the reports I’ve read have been in French media and the technical details of the legal action are beyond my schoolboy French. Given that the possible penalties could be a year in prison or a €200,000 fine (it might actually be a year in prison and a fine), it sounds like a criminal case.

This is apparently the first time that criminal proceedings (if that’s what they are) have been launched in Europe against a cruise ship captain for an offence of this nature. What’s also interesting is that it’s very personal as it’s the captain who’s been charged and not the cruise line or the ship’s port of registry. They’re obviously saying that the captain is personally responsible for the condition of his or her vessel and must therefore personally carry the can for any regulatory breaches.

I’ll follow this up on the 9th (Monday) as best I can. And if anyone can tell me the identity of the captain on Azura on 29 March I’d be grateful – the French media sites I’ve visited are don’t mention a name at all.

A Google search for ‘Azura Marseilles pollution’ will bring up the sites I’ve been looking at, including a story in the Guardian (which is where I first spotted it).

 

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Today has brought an interesting coda to the “Departure of Oriana” saga. Holland America Line (HAL), another Carnival Corp cruise line, has announced the sale of the Prinsendam, one of their ships. Indeed, they’ve already sold her, to Phoenix Reisen, a German deluxe cruise operator, but are chartering her back until July 2019.

Prinsendam has been HAL’s smallest ship for some years. She started life in the late 1980s as Royal Viking Sun, built for the Royal Viking Line. That company collapsed in the late 80s and after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing (including a few years under the Cunard flag) she was transferred to HAL in 2002 as a small, deluxe ship making generally lengthy voyages. Continue Reading »

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Thoughts on Oriana

Oriana off Cowes, September 2012

Now that Oriana is leaving the fleet, it’s time for me to give my thoughts both on the ship herself, and on her departure.

We did two cruises on Oriana, in 2008 and 2012. Both were just short affairs – just four nights each, I believe. The second was also one of the ‘Grand Event’ cruises to celebrate P&O’s 175th birthday.

The first cruise on her was one of our very first cruises, and also our first with P&O. I blogged about it, and you can find the review here (there are links from that review page to the day-by-day blog posts). As you can read, we enjoyed the cruise. I don’t think that we would have quite so much enthusiasm for the cabin today – we’ve got very used to the space and facilities of the cabins on Azura, Ventura and Arcadia. But there were many things about her that we liked.

Our second cruise on Oriana was the Grand Event in 2012. To be honest, we only picked Oriana for this cruise because it was the cheapest way of getting to the party – Oriana was doing the shortest cruise, and therefore the least costly, of the seven that were starting that day. Continue Reading »

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I mentioned in an earlier post that I had stumbled across an internal P&O Question and Answer document, presumably to help their customer-facing staff in conversations with customers about Oriana’s departure.

Here’s a copy of that document. I’ve retitled it so that it’s WordPress-compliant, but I haven’t edited any of the content. It’s four pages long, and by default just the first page displays, but there’s a little widget at the bottom of the document to display the other pages. Just click on the down arrow just to the left of where it reads “Page 1 / 4” (or whatever page you’re on).

OrianaCancellationQAFINAL1AGENTS

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I’ve learned that Oriana is definitely going to China – specifically, “a company operating in the domestic Chinese market”, which sounds like a Casino ship operator.

I learned this from an interesting P&O Q&A document I stumbled across. It’s 4 pages long. The first page is headed “Agent Version only” and has a section headed “Key Messages”, while pages 2 to 4 are headed “INTERNAL Q&A – NOT TO BE ISSUED EXTERNALLY”, and as you can imagine there are a number of interesting snippets:

  • Guests can transfer their booking to Cunard: “If the guest is adamant they wish to transfer to a Cunard voyage we will allow this”n
  • out-of-pocket expenses: P&O seem to be saying that they will reimburse some of these, including insurance bought specifically for a cancelled Oriana cruise (not an annual policy); credit card fees incurred, up to 1.5%; car parking costs;and other transport costs;
  • A list of the cancelled cruises – it’s quite long.

Here’s the URL for this document – I found it by doing a Google search for “P&O Oriana leaving the fleet”. The link might stop working, of course, but if so I’ll try to post a copy after the weekend (I did manage to save a copy – it’s a PDF). I’m away from home at the moment and posting from an iPad so can’t do anything complicated until next week.

Update later: looks like that document is no longer available. As I said, I’ve got a copy and I’ll to make it available when I get home after the weekend.

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Here’s a follow-up post to the earlier one about P&O’s Oriana leaving that company’s fleet in August 2019.

There’s still no hard information as to where she is going, although there are some rumours that it might be to Hong Kong – or elsewhere in China – for use as a casino ship. It’s suggested that Chinese buyers have been looking at her for a while, but we’re unable to strike a deal. Maybe now they have.

Here’s another thought: she may not be going anywhere. It’s the case that Oriana’s propulsion system is different from that of any other ship in the fleet (or indeed pretty much any other modern cruise ship) in that she has a mechanical transmission rather than electric propulsion motors. Is it possible that it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep that system in good order? The mechanical parts would have been bespoke when she was built by Meyer Werft in the early/mid 90s, and it might be that replacement parts are just too difficult or too expensive to source. It’s also the case that a 50-night cruise had to be cancelled in the New Year in order for her to receive urgent maintenance, and I don’t think we ever heard the full story about that. Maybe P&O / Carnival have decided that she can’t be made reliable enough for continued service?

Hopefully we’ll learn more in due course.

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Oriana leaving P&O

Well, after years of rumours, P&O have announced this morning that Oriana will be leaving the fleet in August 2019. I don’t yet know where she’ll be going, but I shall try to find out more.

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P&O Iona

Well, I was wrong – the new ship will not be called Olympia. As everyone knows by now, her name will be Iona. That’s a nice name, and it trips off the tongue, but of course there’s no echo of P&O heritage there at all. But never mind.

P&O have issued a fly-around animation of her; however, it doesn’t seem to want to run on my iMac. Here, instead, is a link to the same video (I think) on YouTube.

One thing I did get right is a post I did a month or so ago about the deck plans and layout. As expected, she’ll be a very close cousin of AidaNova, which is due to come into service at the very end of this year. Here’s a link to page showing the deck plans for that ship. Obviously there will be differences – bars and restaurants will be differently named, the decor will be different, and so on, but broadly speaking this is what Iona will be like. The P&O video confirms that there will be a walk-round promenade deck, though that is one area where they do appear to be some differences between the animation and the deck plans. The animation seems to show the promenade deck staying on one level whereas the deck plan shows it dropping from deck 8 to deck 7 for the aft section. But this will all be cleared up in due course.

Indeed, things might well be clearer in just a few months. The P&O webpage says that cruises on Iona will be on sale this September, and I would hope that we would have much more information about her –  numbers, locations and types of restaurants, for example, and of course deck plans – by then.

And if anyone want an early look at what Iona might look like, then you’ll be able to see AIDAnova in Southampton on 4 December. That’s her first port of call after leaving Hamburg on 2 December for her maiden voyage.

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