Michael Wilson, Managing Director of Bolsover Cruise Club, asks whether P&O Cruises’ new ship will be its biggest success story yet

Ruthie Henshall's production of Cabaret as P&O Cruises announces new ship details and new entertainment and dining at The Sky Garden in London © Steve Dunlop
Ruthie Henshall’s production of Cabaret as P&O Cruises announces new ship details and new entertainment and dining at The Sky Garden in London © Steve Dunlop

We knew the question on everybody’s lips, from the members of our Cruise Club Forum and beyond, and we waited with bated breath at London’s Sky Gardens to find out the answer.

“We know our guests and we know what they love,” said P&O Cruises Senior Vice President Paul Ludlow, as he addressed the crowd at the star-studded event. And with the revelation that the “most ambitious ship in P&O Cruises history” would see the return of not only a promenade deck, but an uninterrupted, half-mile long lanai deck, the cruise line confirmed that this is indeed the case.

P&O Cruises turned not only to its guests when researching what people wanted to see from the latest ship in the fleet, but also to those who had considered cruising with them yet never quite taken the plunge.

“Understanding the psychographic – the mindset – of our current and future guests is the key – acknowledging and realising what they want from a holiday and then providing it for them,” Paul added.

“Our vision is to offer the next generation of British guests the holiday of a lifetime on the next generation of P&O Cruises ships. This new ship will bring an array of new cruising experiences to guests and attract newcomers to our brand, while instantly resonating with forward-thinking guests, encapsulating the ‘P&O-ness’ they recognise and love.”

So what can guests old and new expect from the largest ship ever built specifically for British cruisers?

The aforementioned promenade deck will undoubtedly be appreciated by those who consider it the missing piece of the puzzle on board Britannia, and will provide access to al fresco dining and relaxation areas under shaded pavilion awnings.

A glass wall spanning three decks will flood the Atrium with light and offer jaw-dropping views of the ocean and ports of call, its design centred upon bringing the outside in; a theme which is set to run throughout the ship and which was born from P&O Cruises’ desire for their guests to be as connected with the sea and their surroundings as possible.

Atop the ship will be The Dome, a major new entertainment hub and one of the star attractions on board. Featuring a vast clear sky dome, a pool with retractable stage, water feature and whirlpools, The Dome will act as an all-weather venue for entertainment throughout the day and informal dining. The Dome will also host aerial performances and immersive shows every evening and is just one of four entertainment venues planned for P&O Cruises’ new 180,000-ton, 5,200-passenger ship.

Guests will be spoilt for choice when it comes to dining, entertainment, socialising and relaxation, with plans to incorporate 17 places to eat, including seven speciality restaurants, and 12 places to enjoy a drink with sea views. Thirteen venues are set to entertain guests, from the ship’s main family-friendly theatre to adult-only venues, and three pop-up entertainment spaces will up the ante even further.

Some of the biggest design names in the world have been tasked with creating the next generation ship, which will go on sale in autumn 2018 and launch in early summer 2020. Cabin concepts will be created by Acumen, the designers behind The Residence, Etihad Airways’ plush suites in the sky.

P&O Cruises will once again enlist the services of Richmond International, the architecture and interior experts behind Britannia, London’s The Langham Hotel and the Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados, among many more of the world’s leading hotels and resorts.

So do we think that P&O Cruises’ most ambitious ship ever will be its biggest success story? The signs certainly look good so far.

When Bolsover Cruise Club members were asked what they’d like to see from the new ship, a promenade deck, a ‘wow’ atrium, new dining venues and an outdoor ‘quiet zone-cum-relaxation area’ were among the answers. With all of these things already promised, and plenty more to be revealed in due course, the next chapter in the P&O Cruises story is set to be very exciting indeed.