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New P&O program sets the bar for cruise holidays

A new dawn for P&O

P&O have announced details of their biggest ever Australasian season, just weeks after revealing a repositioning of their brand.

The 2015-16 program will operate five vessels, with Pacific Eden and Pacific Aria joining up with Pacific Dawn, Pacific Jewel and Pacific Pearl. This expanded fleet kicks off the season in November next year and there are a number of maiden itineraries and ports of call, both internationally and domestically. These include:

  • Honiara in the Solomon Islands
  • Jakarta, Indonesia
  • Ko Chang, Thailand
  • Hamilton Island and Gladstone, Queensland
  • Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
  • Esperance, Western Australia

More cruise holiday deals for the consumer

P&O Cruises CEO Ann Sherry believes the timing of the new program is perfect. "With five ships in our fleet we can now meet the growing demand for cruise holidays from around Australia, with extended seasons from existing homeports and the addition of new homeports such as Cairns."

Sydney Harbour is braced for an extra-special launch on November 25 next year when all five of the P&O ships will be in port at once.

Of the newest additions, Eden will be based in Fremantle, Sydney, Adelaide, Cairns and Melbourne, with Aria based in Sydney and Brisbane. Likely to be very popular on Aria are cruise deals including itineraries to Tonga and Samoa. A four-night cruise in New Zealand will also be available, along with 15-nights to Fiji, Tonga and the Cook Islands.

Asia is Eden's main port of call, with five cruises from July 2016 to Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia. A total of 13 cruises will travel from Fremantle.

There is also a major focus on shorter cruises, with 84 P&O SeaBreak offerings, including a four-night Kangaroo Island tour from Melbourne.

Brand repositioning a big step

P&O only recently unveiled a completely new look and feel for the brand, with a focus on being "Like No Place on Earth". The campaign looks to emphasise the freedom of cruise holidaying, with a heavenly, otherworldly theme very prevalent. P&O Cruises Senior Vice President Tammy Marshall says great value holidays are still the driving force.

"P&O Cruises has been around for more than 80 years and is the most popular cruise line in Australasia, so it's important to remain fresh, contemporary and modern. We're constantly updating, refreshing and expanding our onboard experiences. We wanted to make sure we got any change right, so have been planning this for a good year now and think it was worth the wait."

Keeping loyal customers happy

The company is well aware it needs to balance attracting new business, while maintaining a loyal support base.

"Like any industry, it's very important that we stay in tune with our customers and continue to not only meet the demands of the market but surpass expectations" Tammy said.

"We're targeting people who haven't cruised before. We want to show them that cruising with P&O is an experience they'll really enjoy. We're very proud of the fact we have such a large and loyal customer base. Our brand repositioning is very much in line with modern Australia and New Zealand but will still resonate with our existing customers."

The Facebook factor

P&O adopted a unique marketing idea, asking the general public to name their two new ships online, with Aria and Eden the final choices. Tammy was delighted with the campaign.

"We were thrilled with the response to the Facebook naming competition. We received 30,000 names in less than two weeks, which really showed the connection that Australians and New Zealanders have with P&O Cruises."

That connection is undoubtedly getting stronger, with recent CLIA passenger figures for Australia and New Zealand on the increase.

"Given we account for a large share of Australian and New Zealand cruise passengers, we have a feel for the market so we knew that the results would be very positive. That said, we were thrilled by the final figures as they demonstrate a strong and growing passion for cruising amongst Australians and New Zealanders."

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