Another Canberra? I Bloody Well Hope Not!

Every time P&O announce a new ship, so many people post on various outlets about it being called Canberra. Why? There are many other names out there or they could just come up with a new one like they did for Ventura and Azura. Canberra was a one-off and well loved like Oriana and Aurora today. What is they’re obsession with re-using that particular name when the company has (currently) 174 years of names to use? But with the announcement today by P&O that they are launching a new ship in March 2015, I have a horrible feeling the name so synonymous with that legend will be dusted off and this is why. Their press release went:

P&O Cruises announces new 141,000-tonne ship to enter service in March 2015

Posted 01 Jun 2011

Rendering © P&O Cruises

To be built at Fincantieri’s Monfalcone yard, the all-in cost is approximately €155,000 per lower berth. Ushering in an exciting era for P&O Cruises, the ship will offer a stylish and innovative new design and an unprecedented number of passenger facilities, along with many of the brand’s classic and iconic features. Specifications and new product innovations will be announced at a later date.

Commented Micky Arison, Carnival Corporation & plc’s chairman and CEO, “P&O Cruises is Britain’s number one cruise operator, and is synonymous with high quality holidays that celebrate its rich British heritage. The UK continues to be a key growth market and innovative vessels such as this new P&O Cruises ship – targeted specifically to British clientele – underscore our commitment to leading the expansion of this important cruise region. With a progression of highly successful new ships introduced over the last 15 years, P&O Cruises is uniquely experienced in designing vessels to meet the specific needs and aspirations of British passengers. This newly ordered ship will underline P&O Cruises’ position as Britain’s favourite cruise line.”

P&O Cruises Managing Director Carol Marlow said, “This next-generation ship will deliver the ultimate P&O Cruises experience, with ‘sophisticated wows’ and new features to attract thousands of newcomers to our brand, and equally to resonate with existing P&O Cruises passengers by giving them the ‘P&O-ness’ they recognise and love. She will offer ‘the best of the best,’ combining the favourite classic features of Oriana and Aurora, the choice and variety of Azura and Ventura, and a host of new ideas and concepts which together will deliver to our passengers the holiday of a lifetime, every time they travel with us.”

About P&O Cruises
P&O Cruises can trace its roots back to 1837 when the Peninsular Steam Navigation Company was awarded the lucrative Admiralty contract to carry mail to the Iberian Peninsula and beyond. Today, as trusted cruise experts, P&O Cruises has a fleet of seven ships offering holidays tailored to British tastes combining genuine service, a sense of occasion and attention to detail, ensuring passengers have the holiday of a lifetime, every time they travel with us. Azura was launched in April 2010 – officially named by Godmother Darcey Bussell CBE and small ship Adonia was added to the fleet on May 21, 2011 with global singing star Dame Shirley Bassey DBE as Godmother.

P&O Cruises Fleet:
Oriana entered service 1995, named by Her Majesty The Queen, 1,828 passengers
Aurora entered service 2000, named by HRH Princess Anne, 1,870 passengers
Oceana entered service 2003, named by HRH Princess Anne, 2,016 passengers
Arcadia entered service 2005, named by Dame Kelly Holmes DBE, 2,016 passengers
Ventura entered service 2008, named by Dame Helen Mirren DBE, 3,078 passengers
Azura entered service 2010, named by Darcey Bussell CBE, 3,100 passengers
Adonia entered service 2011, named by Dame Shirley Bassey DBE, 710 passengers
Newbuild 2015 to be confirmed , 3,611 passengers

Well you can see why they may insult a legend by giving this, a slightly modified version of the future Royal Princess (III) (another ship which had a unique history but Princess bods have made it a meaningless name now), the same name. It’s got TWO funnels! Sorry but something which looks like a Royal Caribbean ship is NOT unique. To date, thanks to them selling Artemis, there are just two original ships left in the P&O fleet, Oriana and Aurora. How long before they’re shipped off to P&O Australia so all we’re left with is an R ship (one of eight!), a Sun class Princess (one of four), a HAL Vista (one of five, not including the modified Signature class, Cunard and Costas) and two Grand class Princesses (one of five of that design and umpteen older ones!)? Why can’t Carnival let each brand have their own UNIQUE ships? But the most important question is, why are P&O trying to be something they’re not? Take a look at RCCL. Yes they use same basic platforms in their Royal Caribbean and Celebrity fleets BUT that’s where the similarities end. You go onto a Radiance class and you’re not comparing to Millennium because they have made them VERY different inside and out. Why can’t Carnival do the same to keep at least a little of what made each line unique? You can’t make a ship catered to one market out of a clones ear. Where’s the originality? Why is it RCCL and NCL are leading the way with innovative and exciting ships? Why do the likes of HAL, AIDA and Seabourn get NEW ships yet the rest get the same as everyone else? How long before a Carnival Dream class ends up as the next ‘Classic Cunarder’? HAL manages very well being a mid-sized fleet. Can you imagine a mega-monster in theirs? Of course not. They know what their passengers want and are listening. P&O sadly aren’t so they’ll have gimmicks to compete but fail miserably so will heavily discount. One of the great things about P&O was the atmosphere onboard, which is lost on the larger ships. You lose the personal touch with thousands of other people. In my opinion, this is a mistake.

If they DO decide to reuse the Canberra name, it’s a shame they couldn’t have given it to something completely unique, drawing on her design but with a modern twist, as they did with Oriana. Stephen Payne would have done an extraordinary job the way he had with Queen Mary 2.

Long live Canberra! 1961-97

Canberra in Southampton. 6th October 1997

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6 Responses to Another Canberra? I Bloody Well Hope Not!

  1. Hi Patricia, wow that’s emotional, but I don’t see why they should not use the Canberra name. I crossed the Atlantic twice in the original Oriana and had my honeymoon on Canberra but I sort of gave up cruising with P&O after I experienced the present Oriana – but that’s another story, one of attitude.

    Under Carol Marlow, who knows, maybe P&O will become a more interesting brand – you have to give her the chance. I do find the funnel positioning rather interesting if rather odd – you’ll see what I mean here (if you can link to it):

    And as someone else said earlier today it’s a damned sight better than the bird cages on P&O’s Princess style ships.

    • Hi, I just get so fed up with people automatically calling for the name when they have many others they could use. One reason I think they shouldn’t is because Canberra is known for other things whereas the others in P&O’s history are not. She is undoubtedly their most famous ship. There is also the Australian connection, which won’t be with this one so it will just be a reused name with no meaning.

      You are right about the funnel position. It is a little odd. Maybe they’ll shrink the back one. 😉 It’s just a Voyager/Solstice hybrid. Maybe I’m getting old but I’m fed up with these resorts with barely any deck space. I don’t think it’s coincidence all my preferred ships are under 90,000 tonnes. I can’t see much of a Prom deck there. In fact, it reminds me of Epic apart from the middle bit which looks like the restaurant on Voyager/Freedom classes you walk around. It’s not a bad design but that’s because we’ve seen it already all these years so won’t take much getting used to.

      I think Carol Marlow does an excellent job. She knows what people want but when it comes to new ships her hands are tied. So we get a modifed Royal Princess, which will probably have two funnels hidden under the cage! 😉 I absolutely hated Ventura. Wasn’t P&O, Princess cruisers I’d met said it wasn’t Princess, everyone working onboard as miserable as hell, couldn’t wait to get off. May have changed now (this was 2008) but it put me off Grand class for a long time. This year I’m trying Grand Princess and next year have a single cabin on Azura booked. I heard many say Azura is better, more P&O (which is undoubtedly down to Marlow’s influence), so I’ll see. Both are shorts because I refuse to waste money on something I may not like. Yet I found Arcadia fitted in very well despite being a HAL. P&O are aiming at too many markets and forgetting who they are.

  2. Chris Frame says:

    I suppose it’s only a matter of time until we see this class of ship in Cunard Colours as Queen Anne…

    Agree about Canberra, but there was a new Elizabeth announced before QE2 was even retired so I think your fears may be realized.

    • Chris, good point and that’s one reason why this time I just have that awful feeling. Heritage means nothing really (unless it makes them pots of cash). It really saddens me to see what’s becoming of these cruise lines whereas once they had imagination.

  3. Alan Fry says:

    what about calling it Victoria, Himalaya, Iberia, insted, What Carnival could do is build a QM2 style flagship for P&O!

  4. I agree whole heartedly with Pat Dempsey here. Heritage & history have absolutely nothing to do with it nowadays. It’s ALL about turnover, cash & profit. Also her comment about preferring ships under 90,000 tons warms my heart. They’re so damn big now, it’s like a competetition…..”Ours is bigger than yours…Nah…….Nah, Nah, Nah Nah !” . This, resulting in a loss of an old fashioned word & feeling of…..’Ambience’.
    I don’t think they should name the new vessel ‘Canberra’. In my mind it would only cheapen the name & memory of the original, which, let’s face it was one of Britains most well loved & cherished P&O vessels.

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