KARRYON recently caught up with P&O Cruises’ President Sture Myrmell to chat about the brand’s latest successes, upcoming plans & new passenger offerings.

Read on for our full Q&A with P&O Cruises’ boss:

 

What are some P&O moments over the last 12 months you’re particularly proud?

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The last 12 months saw P&O Cruises Australia celebrate two major milestones – the 85th anniversary of P&O’s first cruise from Australia and Pacific Explorer’s first birthday.

Pacific Explorer’s introduction was a major step in the brand’s evolution, building on our very popular modern Australian holiday offering with some exciting new features.

In August 2018 we revealed P&O would welcome a second Grand Class ship to the fleet in late 2020, which is in line with our strategy of refreshing the fleet.

We’ve always valued our long and harmonious relationship with the Pacific, its people and its communities and looked to share the value of a successful cruising industry.  We were particularly proud to receive a prestigious national award for our part in supporting indigenous entrepreneurs in the Pacific to develop new shore tour businesses.

Called “YuMi”, which means “together” in Bislama, the project is a collaboration with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) as well as business accelerator, The Difference Incubator (TDi).  It is all about sharing the benefits of cruising and identifies, develops and accelerates the development of emerging indigenous tourism operators in Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.  It also means our guests experience authentic shore tours run by local people.

 

From an outside perspective, your ships’ child-free areas appear to be growing in popularity, why is this the case?

P&O Cruises offers a great cruise experience for everyone – from families and couples to groups of all ages.

While our Oasis child-free retreat is very popular with guests, we are setting our ships up in such a way that everyone can have a good time.

We have tailored youth programmes across four age groups which ensure kids have a holiday of a lifetime plus activities for the whole family to enjoy together such as the longest and wildest waterslides on an Australian-based ship and outdoor lawn bowling green to name a few.

When the kids are in bed, there are plenty of activities on offer including fine dining and cocktail bars including The Bonded Store in partnership with the Archie Rose Distillery Co. and entertainment such as Love Riot created by acclaimed producer Scott Maidment on Pacific Explorer.

Our ships offer more than 60 onboard activities to do every day and a variety of public spaces for guests to get together and enjoy all the action or lie back and soak up the atmosphere.

 

I know P&O cancelled plans for a new-build ship for the Australian market, do you think the brand will ever resume this conversation & potentially build a new ship for Australia?

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At the moment we’re excited about the next stage in the evolution of the P&O brand and the introduction of two Grand-Class ships into the family with the first being Pacific Adventure in October 2020. Developing the guest experience and preparing for the arrival of these two ships is a very exciting step forward. We’ll see what happens after that.

 

We can only dream, in the meantime, it’s great to hear P&O is focusing on the Brisbane market by sending Pacific Explorer to the city in 2020 – how important is Brisbane to P&O’s growth?

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Sture (second from the left) at the site for the future Brisbane Cruise Terminal.

Brisbane has long been a key cruising hub for P&O and we’ve been sailing from the city for the past 85 years. Since 2012 more than one million Queenslanders have cruised with P&O – and almost three-quarters of them have sailed from Brisbane. In 2020 our program includes 43 round-trip cruises from Brisbane.

We see Brisbane as an emerging major cruise capital. Queensland cruises have access to more destinations than any other state and there are more exciting times ahead with the new international cruise terminal in Brisbane due to open in 2020.

 

Do you expect that with more vessels, Queensland could rival NSW as the number one cruise market?

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Brisbane will have the country’s most modern cruise terminal capable of accommodating all classes of ships, which will put it at the forefront of the industry’s long term growth.  Sydney is and will remain the international gateway to cruising in Australia but we are excited about the plans for the new Brisbane terminal and its potential.

 

Looking ahead, what can we expect from P&O Cruises in 2019?

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In response to a growing demand from Australian holidaymakers, we’re offering 98 Short Breaks in 2019 including our new 1980s and country music-themed cruises. P&O’s inaugural Country Music Festival at Sea will set sail in December, celebrating all genres of country music. Our 1980’s cruise will draw from all the aspects of what was an incredibly rich decade for music and film. We will also feature our second Big Laugh Comedy Festival at Sea following its tremendous success this year.

In 2019 we will also launch our new ‘Voyages’ product on cruises of 13-nights and longer. With more destinations to visit and more days at sea, P&O Voyages includes all of your P&O favourites plus some amazing extras, providing an opportunity to see more, to learn the things you wanted to learn and to indulge yourself to the fullest.

The first ‘Voyage’ will be Pacific Jewel’s final cruise, a one-way Southeast Asia Explorer itinerary from Melbourne to Singapore in February. On the 16-night adventure, guests will experience the best of local gems Busselton and Fremantle, and numerous exotic international destinations including Bali, Penang, Langkawi, Port Kelang and Singapore.

 

What trends do you see shaping the types of cruises you offer or onboard changes?

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As the modern Australian cruise holiday brand, we work hard to stay at the forefront of trends that are shaping the community on land and bring them to sea.  We’re known for being innovative with our dining options, bars, entertainment and the overall look-and-feel of our ships.

We’re currently seeing a trend towards combining multiple and varied activities on board to create an even more fulfilling cruise experience, and there is an interest amongst guests to try new things.

P&O’s food and beverage offering went through a radical change in the past few years and we’re continuing to up the ante. When dining, Australians expect quality and are looking for variety and something for every occasion from casual and fun like Luke’s grill and 400 Gradi on Pacific Explorer to a more formal and intimate experience.

In the world of entertainment, there is a demand for new and different experiences that are unexpected and will surprise and delight – similar to the direction we took for Love Riot on Pacific Explorer. Next year we’ll be testing some exciting new concepts and line-ups and combining entertainment with food to create a more immersive experience.

Sometimes holidays call for that little bit of added luxury and in response, we’ve just announced Pacific Adventure will debut Byron Beach Club, an exclusive retreat available to a limited number of guests who book the ship’s suites and mini-suites.

 

Have you cruised with P&O Cruises lately? Tell us about your experience below.