Cruiseday Tuesday – Melbourne to get its own ship?

Melbourne is reportedly to get its own home-based cruise ship before long, according to industry insiders – but it WON’T be the latest P&O acquisition, announced last week.

For many years, there have been calls to home-base a ship in the Victorian capital – but P&O, the largest operator in Australia, has instead restricted its bases to Sydney and Brisbane.

Last week, it announced a new 4200 passenger vessel would be built in Italy specifically for the Aussie market – P1010131and at the same time, rumors swirled that it would be based in Melbourne.

It turns out the rumors were half right, I understand.

The word I hear is that the new vessel (of roughly the same size as Carnival’s Dream Class) will be based in Sydney when it comes into service in 2019 – which makes sense, because that’s the only port capable of taking vessels that size without problems.

Instead, I understand P&O will putting the Pacific Explorer (the renamed Dawn Princess) in the south.

Pacific AriaMeanwhile, the “charm offensive” is obviously underway at P&O Australia.

After weeks of increasingly dire public relations about the new Pacific Eden and Pacific Aria, senior P&O officials are reportedly undertaking a blitz to try to get cruise media ‘shakers and movers’ onside.

It appears that more than two dozen industry leaders have been invited to a floating meeting very soon, to answer what are likely to be tough questions about ‘what went wrong’.

For those that came in late, P&O recently took over two former Holland America Line ships – the Statendam and the Ryndam, and renamed them the Pacific Eden and Pacific Aria respectively.

The ships were given a basic refurbishment, and then brought in to service the rapidly expanding Australian cruise market.

Unfortunately, they only did a partial refurbishment, on ‘public areas’ .. which left many cabins in a reportedly poor state, with rusty faucets, and tired carpets, etc.

Worse, it appears there were some problems with the plumbing on the vessels – leading to reports of brown dirty water coming back up through shower plugholes.

Then there was the issue of underprepared staff .. while many of the crew had reportedly served on other P&O ships, they were unfamiliar with the particular quirks of the former HAL cruise-ships, and the net result was when things went wrong, they rapidly cascaded from minor issues to major bunfights.Pacific Eden

Add that to the newly introduced ‘pantry’ concept, replacing the familiar buffet, and social media reports were scathing.

Even so, things may have calmed down – but unfortunately, there was a norovirus outbreak on the (RCI Lines) Explorer of the Seas .. and then, two days later another on the Pacific Eden. Those two outbreaks got conflated, somehow, and suddenly the Eden (and by association, the Aria) were being described as “worse than a one star hotel

Some of that criticism’s obviously unfair – but P&O are moving to overcome the bad PR with the schmooze-fest of shakers-and-movers next weekend. And no, I’m not one of those industry luminaries.

Ah well 🙂

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