Strategic Meetings Summit London, 26 September,
September 29 2022, Kimpton Fitzroy London
Friday 30 September 2022, JW Marriott Grosvenor
ADONIA ” A ”White Sister.” Cruising Without Children
Cruising has really taken off with the British, recent figures published by the Passenger Shipping Association indicating that if the one million barrier is not broken this year it certainly will be in 2004.
In an effort to keep up with the trend P&O, Britain”s most successful deep sea holiday company, has disposed of its elderly Victoria and reinvented the popular Acadia as Ocean Village replacing them with two nearly 80,000 ton, 2,000 passenger ships Oceana and Adonia, not brand new but recent builds for sister company Princess Cruises. P & O call them the ”White Sisters” in memory of a series of ships from the 1930”s. Strathallan and her sisters also had white hulls and yellow funnels. Last week Princess Anne and her daughter Zara christened the two ships at Southampton in a unique ceremony that caught the public”s imagination.
Oceana is typical of the modern cruise liner catering (literally) for what we call in the UK, the four-star market. Spacious, well thought out, offering 24-hour victuals and virtually non-stop activities On some cruises the disco closes as the first of the early risers get ready for their three laps to the mile stroll around the promenade deck. In a ship so big one group never sees the other, each living in its own world. It works very well. There are five main eating places on board, the two large restaurants offering set early or late meal times, the alternatives very much dining to suit. You can always order something in your cabin.
Adonia, whilst essentially a twin of Oceana, is something different. Following an experimental season last year with Arcadia under 18”s are banned. What this means is that the children”s area has been scrapped, to be replaced by ”Easy Like a Sunday” a panoramic lounge area and bar offering snacks and an alternative light breakfast. On Adonia”s maiden voyage it proved to be very popular with what must be some of the most comfortable seats afloat. The effect of not having young people on board is also reflected in the make-up of the passenger profile. There are fewer couples (and singles) in the 20-40 age bracket. The family groups don't choose Adonia. What seems to predominate are the middle aged mature types. And very English too.
Adonia”s maiden voyage was perhaps not typical of what she will offer throughout this summer. New York was her introduction, a popular entry point allowing many of the passengers to arrive early and take a look at one of the world”s great cities. Passing out by the Statue of Liberty, Newport Rhode Island, Boston and Bar Harbor (see picture above) quickly came one day after the other, followed by a very smooth six day crossing of the Atlantic. The ice is far south this year and Adonia passed north of the Azores before tracking towards the Isle of Wight and Southampton. P&O run a series of theme cruises. You don”t have to take part, or you can join in just the presentations that attract your interest. This voyage, for some reason called ”The American Dream”, featured comedy and included TV celebrity Tom O”Connor, scriptwriter and general funny man Mike Craig, and Ernest Maxim, producer of the Morecambe and Wise Christmas shows. Packed houses for all the lectures, chats and shows. Classical Music, Soap Opera and Fashion are amongst the themes for the remainder this year.
Over the last 30 years the liners of old have evolved to the cruise ships of today, massive floating luxury hotels embodying the latest in technology and able to move silently around the world often visiting out of the way places previously not on the tour itinerary.
Adonia seems to be the right size, not too big (it can go through both the Panama and Suez canals) and yet large enough to offer a 500-seat theatre and two swimming pools. The atrium is spectacular, four stories high, not overwhelming, but certainly impressive. The vast majority of cabins are of the same basic size, around half having a balcony. Some are inside. There is the story told of a widow, who much enjoyed regular cruising. She always booked a balcony-less cabin, as she put it, to ensure that she ventured and enjoyed all that the ship had to offer. However P&O decided to upgrade her on one trip! She now finds that she rather likes the balcony cabin. Once you try a better product it is difficult to go back to the original.
It is with entertainment where the cruise ships really score and P & O have built up an enviable reputation offering something for virtually everyone. You can sit on the spacious decks all day and do nothing but alternatively there is always something to do, even play seaborne cricket (although a slightly choppy sea did stop play one day on the Atlantic crossing). Deck sports and bingo are always fashionable at sea as are the art auctions. The latest films are shown in the theatre and there is both line dancing and tea dancing, both very popular. A well stocked library encourages reading and a golf similar always seemed to have a queue. There is always a bar at hand to sit and chat, with at prices long forgotten in the UK. Other than the on-board shops and drinks, and a suggested very sensible one stop tipping system, virtually everything else is inclusive. A each port you can stay on board or not, as is your wish. There are still plenty of activities open.
The spa and gym area on Adonia is probably the finest afloat, sitting high above the stern of the ship and self-contained. You can use the apparatus, take in an aerobics class, rest and think in the sauna and then sit out in an whirlpool open to the elements, all without moving more than a few metres. There are various treatment rooms and a hairdressing salon.
For the rest of this year Adonia will be based at Southampton offering a variety of mainly 14 day cruises to the Mediterranean and northern Europe ports, except for December when it makes a return trip to the Caribbean, ideal for those who don't want to fly and had not visited the islands of the West Indies. In January it sets out on a 100 day trip to Australia, but not around the world. Outbound is through the Suez Canal, south east Asia and into Sydney via Brisbane, whilst the return journey takes you to Perth, Singapore for a second time, and then back via Cape Town. Clearly it has a great appeal, already 650 people booked for the complete voyage which is also broken down into segments typically Sydney to Singapore and visa versa. P&O Aurora's ”around the world” package earlier this year attracted 450 clients.