P&O Princess introduces new brand, reshuffles fleet
Though still the target of a take-over battle between Carnival Corporation and RCL, P&O Princess Cruises is to launch a new brand in the U.K. cruise industry. It is also shuffling ship deployments in hopes of accelerating its development in the growing cruise segment of the U.K. vacation market, offering more choice to customers and enhancing the position of its Princess Cruises fleet in North America.
The new brand, Ocean Village, will "target a young and active customer base, further expanding the appeal of cruising within the U.K." Initially, Ocean Village will have one ship, providing a dedicated fly-cruise product for the U.K from May 2003. The ship, currently called Arcadia and part of the P&O Cruises U.K. fleet, will have 1,620 lower berths, eight bars, an internet cafe and a bistro. It will provide a cruise experience designed for British passengers, with a relaxed contemporary atmosphere and an emphasis on informality, health and well-being. Initial summer season itineraries will offer one and two-week Mediterranean cruises, together with cruise and stay holidays, based on two alternating seven night itineraries out of Palma, Majorca.
Ship deployments The 2,010 lower berth Sea Princess will be transferred to the P&O Cruises brand in the UK from Spring 2003. Currently part of the Princess fleet in North America, Sea Princess will be refitted to cater to British tastes and renamed Adonia. Its first season will be providing European cruises from Southampton. Together with the introduction of Oceana (currently Ocean Princess) and the withdrawal of Victoria in November 2002, these changes will give the P&O Cruises brand a fleet of four modern ships. By mid 2003, the P&O Cruises fleet will have a weighted average age of under five years and will have an average ship size of over 1,900 berths. Approximately 35% of the cabins in the fleet will have balconies.
P&O Princess also announced that the 3,100 lower berth ship currently under construction in Fincantieri and scheduled for delivery in Spring 2004, will now be delivered to the Princess fleet in North America rather than the P&O Cruises UK fleet. This ship, to be named Crown Princess, has the same basic design as the Grand Princess series with changes to the public rooms and an extra deck added to provide additional capacity. Coupled with the transfer of Sea Princess to the UK, this change moves some of Princess' capacity growth from 2003 to 2004 and represents a further modernization of the Princess fleet. Based on current plans, by the middle of 2004 the Princess fleet will have a weighted average age of under four years and will have an average ship size of approximately 2,300 lower berths. Approximately 55% of the cabins in the fleet will have balconies.
Capacity and deployment
The table below shows actual passenger cruise days for 2001 and estimated passenger cruise days for 2002 to 2005. The second table shows deployments, taking account of the company's current newbuilding program and announced ship transfers, additions and withdrawals, including the changes announced today and also the announcement of the replacement of Minerva with Minerva II in April 2003.