P&O Cruises has promised to celebrate the launch of its new ship Iona in an “appropriate” manner and “judge the mood of the nation”.
President Paul Ludlow described the ship’s arrival into Southampton for its maiden sailing next year as “a real moment that I think everyone will see as the restart of this industry”.
“It will be a good opportunity, not just for the cruise industry, but for the travel industry at large,” he added.
Describing how P&O would mark the occasion, Ludlow said: “It would be remiss not to celebrate that moment but we need to judge the mood of the nation and whatever we plan it needs to feel appropriate with wherever the country is at that point.”
Ludlow was speaking on Tuesday (3 November) during a media launch of P&O’s summer 2022 programme.
Discussing the mood of P&O customers and wider consumer confidence in the cruise market, he claimed the line had seen pre-registration interests for summer 2022 “akin to previous years”.
“We’re really encouraged by what we’ve seen… [and] can take real pleasure in a difficult time for the industry – people want to go on holiday and want to go on cruise holidays.
“Business that we have on the books for the second half of 2021 and into 2022 looks very, very strong.
“Spring of 2022 has been on sale for some time now and that has surpassed historical ranges and we’ve just put summer 2022 on sale. So I would say from the second half of next year onwards looks very good.”
Ludlow also confirmed Iona’s sister ship was “still on track” to launch in December 2022, with steel due to be cut towards the end of the year.
He said P&O would ensure it has “the best testing technology available” when the line returns to service.
“The positivity I’ve heard from our guests around [health and safety] policy changes that we’ll have to make shows guests are ready and waiting to sail with us - when we return, we will return in a very safe manner.”