Favourite cruise brand P&O to exit Australia

P&O owner Carnival Cruises is shuttering the 90-year-old brand.

P&O owner Carnival Cruises is shuttering the 90-year-old brand. Photo: AAP

One of Australia’s best-known travel brands is about to disappear with P&O Cruises announcing it will shut down.

The family-friendly cruise brand will cease operating in 2025, parent company Carnival Cruises announced on Tuesday.

The P&O Australia brand – which is nearly a century old – will be folded into Carnival Cruise Line, which has sailed across the South Pacific since 2013.

“As a result, all itineraries on Pacific Explorer scheduled to sail after 2nd March, 2025, are being cancelled,” P&O said on Tuesday.

“We are all immensely proud of P&O Cruises Australia’s 90-year heritage of dedicated operations in the region and Carnival Cruise Line are honoured to carry forward its storied legacy and continue to deliver the same onboard experiences and itineraries with the benefit of Carnival Cruise Line HUB app and loyalty program. ”

P&O first sailed from Sydney on December 23, 1932, on a seven-day itinerary calling at Brisbane and Norfolk Island.

The company’s first permanent ship in Australia, Fairstar, heavily promoted as “the fun ship”, was part of the fleet for nine years until 1997.

Although Pacific Explorer will no longer operate in Australian waters, the line’s two other locally based vessels, Pacific Encounter and Pacific Adventure, will continue to sail under the Carnival name.

They will join Carnival Splendor, which sails year-round from Sydney, and Carnival Luminosa, which is based in Brisbane during cruise season.

Pacific Explorer, which also sometimes operates from New Zealand, will be retired in February.

P&O will refund customers who have booked for cruises scheduled after March 2.

Crews on Pacific Explorer are expected to be redeployed to other ships, but a small number of workers in the P&O Australia head office would lose their jobs, a spokeswoman said.

Acting P&O Cruises Australia and Carnival Australia lead Peter Little will be retained under the new title of country manager.

Carnival Corporation CEO Josh Weinstein blamed the changes on “the strategic reality of the South Pacific’s small population and significantly higher operating and regulatory costs”.

“We’re adjusting our approach to give us the efficiencies we need to continue delivering an incredible cruise experience year-round to our guests in the region,” he said.

The Carnival brand will have its fleet boosted by eight ships after also acquiring vessels from sister line Costa Cruises.

New ships are expected to come into operation in 2027 and 2028.

Under the changes, Carnival will continue to be the largest cruise operator in the region with 19 ships, representing almost 60 per cent of the market.

The P&O ships would get technology upgrades, including an ordering app and loyalty program, but would retain the “familiar feel and much of the same experiences” for Australian guests, Carnival Cruise Line president Christine Duffy said.

-with AAP

Topics: Cruise Ship
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