We talk to P&O Cruises Senior Vice President Paul Ludlow about why Oriana holds a special place in so many guests’ hearts and why it’s time for her to undergo a refit
Why do you think Oriana is so well loved, with such a loyal following?
Oriana is a unique ship with an incredible character; I think that’s what guests love about her. She’s exclusively for adults and offers all of the traditions and charms of cruising with an intimate atmosphere and a calm elegance. Also, one of the many benefits of a cruise on Oriana is the fantastic range of itineraries available. She has such a loyal following of guests who come back every year, more so than any of our other ships.
Oriana has a long history, how does this contribute to her popularity today?
Oriana was named by HM The Queen on 6 April 1995, so next year marks 22 years of loyal service. There are many things during this time that have made her so special and popular. Oriana still holds the prized Golden Cockerel Trophy, awarded to the fastest ship in the fleet, with a maximum speed of 30 knots. When she entered service, Oriana was also one of the largest cruise ships in the world (so you can see how times have changed!). However, size is not everything and Oriana’s tradition and charm remains throughout. The refit at the end of this year will not alter this but will just refresh her beauty.
What makes Oriana different to the other ships in the fleet?
Oriana offers traditional cruising at its best and brings to life everything about the luxuries of being at sea. Her signature tiered stern decks are reminiscent of ocean liners of the past, and the broad teak promenade and lido decks add a rich, classic feel to the ship. Her most recognisable feature is the stunning atrium with the Art Deco Tiffany glass ceiling. Coming on board Oriana is like stepping into the golden age of cruising, but with many contemporary touches and dining choices – a combination that is unique to Oriana.
The plans for the refit have taken into consideration guest feedback. Why do you think this is so important?
At every stage of a guest’s journey with us, from consideration through booking to the holiday itself, we aim to go above and beyond expectations. That’s why it’s so important for us to know what our guests are thinking – they are the whole reason our ships sail the world over, so their feedback is invaluable. We know that it’s time to give Oriana the attention she deserves. Her refit will take into consideration guest feedback on all aspects of the ship, from the public spaces and bars to the cabins, bathrooms and much more. We want Oriana’s guests, both returning and new, to feel that they are sailing on the most elegant and charming ship in the fleet. From what our guests have told us, we know that retaining these traditional elements that are unique to Oriana is as important as rejuvenating the ship. So that’s what we’re aiming to do.
Focusing on the public areas and cabins, how will the refit be balanced between the need to modernise and the desire to retain Oriana’s much-loved classic cruise feel? What added touches of luxury will there be?
We’ll be rejuvenating the public areas and cabins with a range of subtle upgrades that will have a big impact without losing Oriana’s unique charm. New carpets will enhance Oriana’s elegance while improved lighting designs will add to the atmosphere of traditional cruising. We’ll also be upgrading furniture and making changes to cabin bathrooms to ensure they meet the standards for P&O Cruises guests.
What’s most important, though, is that none of the changes will take away any of what makes Oriana so special. In fact, all of our plans aim to emphasise her unique and traditional charm – from the furniture choices to the fabric for our new soft furnishings and the chosen carpet designs, everything has been selected to complement and emphasise Oriana’s traditional feel.
One of the main changes in recent years is the wide range of dining available on Oriana. What further changes will there be?
Significant changes will be noticeable in the Conservatory buffet restaurant,which will become a much brighter, modern space where guests will be able to enjoy casual all-day dining. We will also be refurbishing the space of our hugely popular Beach House restaurant, which offers relaxed evening dining at great value.
The Peninsular and Oriental main restaurants will also have fresh new looks, with specially designed carpets and new furniture throughout giving these popular dining experiences a new lease of life in keeping with the tradition of Oriana.
For those all-important holiday cocktails and refreshing beers, Oriana’s pubs and bars will be upgraded to ensure there is something to match every mood. The quintessential British sports bar, Lord’s Tavern, will have new carpets and furniture, and the plans for Anderson’s include replacing old furniture as well as introducing new lamps and stylish new carpets and rugs, all with the intent of retaining and upgrading Anderson’s classic elegance.
Of course, holidays are about relaxation and pampering too, so to offer guests the best in salon treatments we’re planning to upgrade salon equipment such as the washbasins and treatment beds, as well as refurbishing the spa and relaxation areas to rival your favourite spa on dry land. We’ll be uplifting the sauna, steam-room, whirlpool and changing areas with new tiling, modern furniture and contemporary equipment. An improved layout will mean that guests can focus on pounding the pounds in the gym area, while the relaxation areas are all about escaping to a calming retreat with soothing natural décor such as a living plant wall.
Where will Oriana be going next year?
In 2017, Oriana has a wide range of itineraries, all sailing from Southampton. Highlights include the 50-night Caribbean & Amazon Adventure, which includes 13 different countries and covers over 14,000 nautical miles. This includes two full days in New Orleans to explore Bourbon Street and really pick up the musical vibe of this diverse city; two full days in Manaus in Brazil on the Amazon; an overnight stay in Fort Lauderdale; and extended time in Bermuda to relax on the pink sand beaches. There are also two Northern Lights cruises, which are always very popular, an Iceland cruise and seven long Mediterranean cruises. If you are short on time, then you could see the Iberian coast instead or have a quick chocolate, shopping and foodie break to Bruges or Amsterdam.