terça-feira, 7 de agosto de 2018

End of an Era, Death of a Brand

Exactly one year from today ORIANA will make the last call of her 24 year career under the P&O name when she calls in Belfast, Northern Ireland, birthplace of her beloved 'mother ' CANBERRA and many other famous liners.
Two days later she will make her last arrival in Southampton bringing to a end her career and in a very real sense disposing of the last vestages of the company that introduced her into service in 1995, P&O Cruises part of The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company.
ORIANA 's maiden arrival in Southampton
Under Carnival's ownership the brand has claimed with each new ship it introduces that it is the latest or the largest ship 'built for Britain' and their latest monstrosity IONA is proving to be no exception.
 While on a technicality this could be seen as being true, each of the ships in serivce with P&O since 2001 have served their mainly British passengers, from a design point of view this is however a complete contrast to the reality, P&O's post merger fleet have all consisted of generic Carnival/Princess designs built with no real consideration for the British passenger beyond a few aesthetic modifications to make it more 'British'.
It is  a complete contrast to that mentality at the time ORIANA was designed the foremost goal that was set was the ship would be designed to appeal to her British clientele in both a decor and range of facilites on board, thus features such as a full Cinema and West End style was included where her US based cousins would combine both venues into a large Las Vegas styled show lounge complete bar service.
 While on a technical level her hull was built stronger than a standard cruise ship and her longer bow and deeper draught give her superior sea keeping quailities with her higher speed she is able to reach ports from her homeport in less time than other ships.
Many of these features would later be carried forward to the design of AURORA,  sadly that would be as far as her design linage would strech  as between them ORIANA and AURORA would become the last passenger ships designed for The P&O Group.
Despite P&O's promises that there will be no more departures from the fleet after ORIANA it more than likely that AURORA will be following ORIANA and leaveing the fleet in the not so distant future allowing Carnival UK to reshape it in the way it feels fit with it's remaing mishmash of mass market Carnival ships to quote the company in recent email to ourselves-
"Our vision is to become Britain's number one holiday company and by balancing guest loyalty and commercial need as well as investing in our current fleet, we are confident that this will be achieved"
Contrasting to the down key and disrespectful way ORIANA has been treated recently we will finish with a brief recap of the 9th April 1995 when ORIANA was the new star of the P&O Cruise fleet, the first super liner built for Britain, and her whole future and that of her owners streached out on her horizon.

quinta-feira, 19 de julho de 2018

End of an era :- A question of registery

Further to our previous post after we have found that briefly ORIANA was registerd to the Marshall Islands on 1st June  before being re registered to Bermuda the very same day as can be seen below.

Adding further unaswered questions that are surround ORIANA's future this happened 27 days before ORIANA's ownership was transferred to the mystrious Oriental Fleet Cruise 01 Ltd, so it must have been Carnival themselves who transferred the registry but for what reason and why the Marshall Islands?
Carnival Plc seemingly have no links there except the aforementioned Oriental Fleet Cruise 01 Ltd who as revealed previously are registered yet their main address is Care of Carnival UK's headquaters.
While we know very little about what lies ahead for ORIANA and the events around her sale, the one thing we do know for sure is that in her final year with P&O after all she has acheived for the brand, standards she introduced and her contribution to the British cruise market she deserves to be treated better than how she has been.

segunda-feira, 16 de julho de 2018

End of an Era:- ORIANA's New Owner?

 Since the news of ORIANA's departure from the P&O Cruises fleet in August next year there has been pleanty of speculation and rumours and very little information relating to ORIANA's future.
 P&O/Carnival themselves have stated very little relating to ORIANA's future role apart from 'Operating in the Chinese domestic market'
The epitome of P&O ORIANA in the Norwegian Fjords
With very little infomation available naturely rumours began to circulate around the ship's future there were some self apponited cruise experts who claim their reliable sources were telling them that Fred. Olsen Criuse line were in fact the buyers, while another source a supposed employee claimed that Cruise & Maritime Voyages had shown an interest in the ship but due to Carnival UK's strict conditions pulled out of a sale, this at least is feasible they have made two purchases from Carnival in the past couple of years including one of ORIANA's former fleet mates the privious ARCADIA now  COLUMBUS under CMV.
While for some the reason behind her departure from the fleet has more interest, one blogger claiming it is due ORIANA's custom built mechanical transmission system becoming increasingly unreliable citing several of ORIANA's technical issues as evidence while it is possible of course it is worth stating that the 18 year old AURORA who features an electrical transmission system has suffered many more technical issues than ORIANA,
They also claim many of ORIANA's outdated features and cabin sizes maybe be a factor, some of these being features which she shares with AURORA who is remainig with the fleet for the time being.
Concreate infomation regarding ORIANA's future has been almost impossible to come by in attempt gain further insight we contacted P&O Cruises twice to see if they were willing to give the name of ORIANA's buyer and on both occasions they were not very forthcoming however they did reveal that despite ORIANA's special place in with their passengers and the company they felt ORIANA's time had come and it would be better to invest in the remaing ships in the fleet saying-
"ORIANA is a much loved ship, and I know our guests (and indeed us as a company) are extremely sad to see her go. Although we do love the ship, we did feel that it would be prudent to focus on our other mid-sized and larger ships, especially with the arrival of two new ships in the fleet, and maintaining our high standard." 

However today we are able reveal the very little infomation that has come to light regarding ORIANA's post P&O career thanks to the detective work of well known ship enthusiast and spotter Patrica Dempsey,
On the 28th June just a day before the announcement ORIANA's ownership was transferred to ORIENTAL FLEET CRUISE 01 LTD a company whose address is listed as
'c/o Carnival Plc (Carnival UK) Carnival House,100, Harbour Prade Southampton, SO15 1ST, United Kingdom'
So who is Oriental Fleet Cruise 01 Ltd? well there is very little we can say for sure, investgating a little further found that the company is registered in the Marshall Islands, the company is not registered with Companies House in London or any other register of companies, the only confirmation of it's existence is it's International Maritime Organization number which also lists it's fleet consisting of ORIANA.
 
IMO/IHS entry for 'Oriental Fleet Cruise 01 Ltd'

So what can we deduce from any of this? In all honesty not very much perhaps Oriental Fleet Cruise 01 is a new Carnival venture or perhaps a new company formed in Asia to operate in China as P&O have stated previosly, at this moment we can not say for sure but as soon as we have more infomation we will let our readers know

sexta-feira, 29 de junho de 2018

All Good Things...

...must come to an end, As most will know today P&O Cruises announced that ORIANA will be retired from the fleet on the  9th August 2019 with the following statement.
"ORIANA will be leaving the P&O Cruises fleet in August 2019. Over the years, ORIANA has earned a loyal following and we know many of you have very precious memories of her.
All guests booked on ORIANA cruises departing after August 2019 are being contacted by post and email and we will do our utmost to provide an alternative holiday choice.
We are very sorry for this change but there is still time to sail on ORIANA before next summer or try one of our other ships exclusively for adults such as Arcadia or AURORA (from March next year)."

Unlike with her great 'mother' CANBERRA, ORIANA will not have a true farewell year instead her final year will instead be a shortened version of what has already planned with her final cruise being to NORWAY and the North Cape departing Southampton on the 22nd July.

Seemingly the sale could not be announced until the contract was signed meaning that many passengers have booked cruises on board up until 2020.
Naturally the news has for the most part not been recived well, with many claiming P&O no longer cares what it's customer base is looking for in a cruise.

For their part P&O have been less than clear on the reasons for the sale in one comment they say,
"we are committed to bringing a certain standard across our fleet, and our selling of the ORIANA is to help maintain this. We hope our commitment to customer service comes across and we are sorry for any disappointment this may cause our cruisers." quite how ORIANA's sale can bring a 'certain standard' across the fleet' is somewhat confusing but they continue, "we are sad to see ORIANA leave the fleet' well at the end of the day they are the ones selling her so they can not be to upset.
It is of course obvious to see that main driving force behind her disposal is the construction and arrival of the monstrous IONA and her yet to be named twin.
And what is to happen to ORIANA herself, very little is known at this time except she has been sold to a Chinese company for use in their domestic market, considering the reputation around cruise lines in that market the future does not look at all bright for her.
To end this depressing post we share some moments from her early days when her successful career lay ahead of her.

sexta-feira, 18 de maio de 2018

A Tale of Two Firsts

On the 9th April 1995 after years of planning,designing and building, ORIANA, the first 'Superliner built for Britain' and Flagship of the Merchent Navy, sailed for her much anticipated maiden voyage, as the most technically advanced ship built to date and one of the largest purpose built cruise ships in the world ORIANA, had been on P&O's part a £200 millon gamble on the future of the British cruise market and after she triumphantly sailed for her first port of call, Madeira, they would soon know if their investment would pay off.
However ORIANA was not the first purpose built cruise ship to sail under  the P&O Flag, and today we take a brief look at a small unremarkable ship which ORIANA followed in the wake of, and also note a few similarities between the two.
Acquired in 1971, the 17,000 ton SPIRIT OF LONDON was intended to be the 5th ship in the NCL fleet and twin to SOUTHWARD, to be named SEAWARD
Eight years before they would stun the cruising world by purchasing the magnifcent liner FRANCE, for conversion into NORWAY, the world's largest dedicated cruise ship, NCL's fleet consisted of small diesel powerd ships which operated year round in the Caribbean.
During 1971 the ship's builders, Cantieri del Tirreno e Riuniti ran into serious financial problems, which caused the yard to be nationalised, and as a result they attempted to renegotiate a higher price for the ship, which NCL refused and pulled out of the contract, when at this time P&O was looking to establish itself in the US cruise market, having failed to do so previously with CANBERRA.
Having been made aware of the incomplete NCL hull P&O made enquires and was able to purchase the ship which they renamed SPIRIT OF LONDON for £10 Million.
P&O then set about with their design teams bringing her in line with their requirements which was to be a ship aimed at an American market but to be decidedly British in its decor being somewhat in the 'swinging London' style which had been popular since the late 1960s.
In the respects of the ship's origins and P&O's intended market, when the ship was completed there was seemingly very little that SPIRIT OF LONDON and ORIANA had in common, but they do share a few minor similarities.
As ORIANA was the first cruise ship built specifically for the UK market, SPIRIT OF LONDON was the first purpose cruise ship to be owned by P&O as well as being the first diesel powered ship owned by the company.
With her introduction into service, bringing the P&O name to a new market, the ship would begin a new era with for the company and although her time under the P&O brand would be short lived, her popularity led to P&O purchasing Princess Cruises, which would be followed by over a decade of expansion for the P&O's passenger division.
ORIANA's introduction of course was also the beginning of a new era for the company siginlling the change of their tonnage from former liners such as the venerable CANBERRA and SEA PRINCESS/VICTORIA who were ORIANA's fleetmates at the time of her introduction, to the purpose built cruise liner
With ORIANA's success, it reassured P&O that their faith had not been misplaced and within 2 years they were drawing up plans for their next project- Capricorn later named AURORA, based heavily on, while also expanding upon ORIANA's superb layout and design.
SPIRIT OF LONDON  launched 9/5/1972 :P&O Heritage
When the ship was complete and arrived in Southampton ready for her Maiden Voyage in November 1972 she contrasted greatly with members of P&O's existing fleet, with her sleek line being the complete opposite to the verticality of the older liners, the exception being CANBERRA.
Sailing with mainly British passengers for her Maiden Voyage on the 11th November, she headed first for Funchal Madeira arriving 3 days later and would stay overnight.
23 years later ORIANA's first landfall was Funchal where she arrived to much celebration after 3 days at sea and enjoying an evening in port with a firework display put on in her honour.
In command of SPIRIT OF LONDON as she sailed on her Maiden Voyage was Captain Gerald McGowan along side his Chief Officer, Ian Gibb.
On the 9th April 1995 it was Commodore Ian Gibb who kept watch over ORIANA as her Master as she headed out of Southampton for the first time.
Ian Gibb seen in a promotional video for SPIRT OF LONDON : PeriscopeFilm

segunda-feira, 9 de abril de 2018

ORIANA 23 Years Young

Southampton, 9th April 1995, ORIANA the largest, fastest and most advanced British passenger liner built for 25 years, embarks her first passengers as the great ship prepared to sail on her Maiden Voyage.
Amongest streamers, a brass band playing and a waiting flotilla of boats to wish her well the new flagship of  P&O Cruises and the British Merchant Navy looked resplendent as her master Commodore Ian Gibb guided her out of Berth 106 and down Southampton Water and onward to her first landfall  Funchal, Madeira.
23 years to the day it is perhaps fitting that ORIANA is alongside in the very port of call she set off for all those years ago Funchal, where she is joined by AIDA PRIMA.
A great many things have changed since April 1995 both with ORIANA/P&O and with the port of Funchal itself but ORIANA still makes for an unmistakable and elegant sight whenever she calls.

ORIANA arrives in Funchal 9/4/18 Photos: Francisco Correia

ORIANA docked in Funchal, 9/4/18

quarta-feira, 21 de março de 2018

ORIANA in search of the Northern Lights

 For her fourth cruise since returning to service ORIANA returned to a destination unlike any other: Norway, from the deep fjords to the North Cape it is truely a destination few can rival, in the summer it is called 'The land of the Midnight Sun' and in winter when the days are at their longest, it becomes the go to destination for those looking for one of natures breathtaking displays, The Northern Lights.
It has become something of a custom for ORIANA to head north during February/March taking her passengers in search of the often elusive Aurora borealis.
Among the ports visited during these 'northern adventures' is Alta which is said to be the Northern most settlement with over a population ofover 10,000.

ORIANA docked in Alta, Norway, 3rd March 2018, Photo Copyright: Paul Crane
Other ports of call ORIANA made during the cruise included Åndalsnes where she called on the 28th Feb as shown below and Tromsø the third largest urban area inside the Arctic circle.

ORIANA alongside in Åndalsnes
Two modes of transportation, ORIANA contrast with a passing charter train, Photos: Leif Johnny Olestad