In its biggest ever single fleet expansion, P&O Cruises will welcome two more ships next year to make it the largest fleet of cruise ships home-ported year round in Australia.
Today’s announcement is an emphatic statement about Carnival Australia’s confidence and leadership in the Australian cruise market and reaffirmation of P&O Cruises’ status as Australia's iconic 'home brand' cruise line.
The additional ships, which will transfer to P&O Cruises from Holland America Line, will deliver much needed capacity in the world's fastest growing cruise market.
"This is a very exciting development for the Carnival Group, P&O Cruises and for our shipside and shoreside teams who have worked so passionately and effectively to build the business and the cruise category," said Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia which operates P&O Cruises.
"The P&O brand set the foundation for the resurgence of cruising in this region making it the most successful sector of Australian tourism. Adding two more ships to the fleet is a signal that the next generation of P&O Cruises is about to commence. It will also accelerate progress in reaching the industry goal of a million passengers a year by 2016 – four years earlier than forecast.
“With the P&O expansion, Carnival Group will have 12 ships home-ported in Australia with fleets from P&O Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines and Princess Cruises calling Australia home.”
The two ships will join P&O Cruises in November 2015. Work is already underway to develop itineraries and home-porting arrangements for the expanded fleet.
Both ships are of a similar mid-range size to the three existing P&O Cruises ships, Pacific Dawn, Pacific Jewel and Pacific Pearl with a range of onboard features that will be tailored for Australian and New Zealand cruise customers.
"The ships are a perfect size for the Australian market. They are intimate, offering space, comfort and style, giving passengers more destinations to choose from, more onboard experiences to indulge in and more reasons to cruise," said Senior Vice President P&O Cruises Tammy Marshall.
"We face a very busy time in preparing for the arrival of the two ships and their integration into the existing P&O Cruises fleet and look forward to announcing the exciting new itineraries, onboard features and other great additions over the coming months.”
The arrival of Australia’s first superliner Pacific Dawn in 2007 set the scene for P&O Cruises’ leadership in building the cruise category in Australia to record levels.
Pacific Dawn was quickly followed by two more P&O Cruises’ superliners, Pacific Jewel and Pacific Pearl, in 2009 and 2010 respectively.
“This further fleet expansion is entirely appropriate for P&O Cruises, the shipping line that pioneered cruising from Australia more than 80 years ago and has set the pace for the industry ever since,” Ms Marshall said.
Having a five-ship fleet will give P&O Cruises greater flexibility in its increased offering of short break cruises, traditional cruises to the South Pacific and cruises to new destinations such as Papua New Guinea and Asia.
More than 800,000 Australians cruised last year with a majority travelling with P&O Cruises. Over a five year period between 2007 and 2012, Australian cruise passenger numbers increased 130 per cent.
Carnival Australia accounts for most of the cruise ships that cruise to or from Australia and New Zealand. Carnival Australia’s ‘House of Brands’ comprises P&O Cruises Australia, Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines, Cunard Line, P&O Cruises World Cruising, Holland America Line and Seabourn.