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04 Sep 2018

BY Abigail Healy

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New to cruise market 'integral' to P&O Cruises' Iona

Attracting new to cruise customers has been “integral” to the thinking behind the line’s new ship Iona.

P&O Iona
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New to cruise market 'integral' to P&O Cruises' Iona

At a launch event in London on Tuesday (September 4), senior vice-president Paul Ludlow said: “While we have a very loyal customer base, we need to find those new to cruise customers."

 

He added the line planned to find these customers through its travel agent partners.

 

P&O revealed Iona’s maiden season and its full 2020 programme on Monday, which Ludlow said had been well received, with “100% more” pre-registrations than when Britannia launched at the same time in 2014.

 

Iona and its sister ship, due to launch in 2022, will increase P&O Cruises capacity by “just shy of 50%” and represents a “step change for P&O” with Ludlow saying it is the biggest capacity increase the line has ever seen.

 

He said the line had no plans to sell any more of its ships beyond Oriana, which is set to leave the fleet next August.

 

Ludlow said he was “pretty confident” the line had everything necessary in place to fill the extra capacity.

 

“With the trade support we’ve seen we’re in really good shape.” he added. “I believe there is room for growth. Our research shows there are many people about to take their first cruise. The market is far from saturated."

 

Ludlow said the decision to base Iona in the Norwegian Fjords was taken as the destination is “incredibly popular with newcomers”.

 

He added the ship’s seven-night itineraries would also appeal.

 

“Seven nights is a great duration for people to see if they like it," said Ludlow. "It’s a great opportunity to try P&O for the first time.”

 

Ludlow also said he believed the line would see a good age range across its bookings.

 

“We had an Azura cruise earlier this year on which 73% of guests were under 55. I don’t believe people view a holiday as a luxury now, they see it as a necessity but they are shrewd – and that applies to all ages.

 

"P&O Cruises gives the payback that you don’t see in many other holidays.”

 

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