Tuesday, 31 March 2015

A Revolution On The Australian Seas?

Photo courtesy of Pilettes

The last five years has seen dramatic changes in the Australian cruise market. Traditionally the domain of P&O who were the sole company to have a ship based in Australian waters year round the market has since been flooded with American competitors.

The view from the travel industry from what I have seen is that the competition has been welcomed. Although it is nice to support an Australian company P&O had long lost their direction in the glorious seas of having a monopoly. The ships were tired, the reservations call centre had been outsourced and were atrocious to deal with and cruising in Australia was stale.

Enter Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruises to shake it all up. With the Australian cruise market revitalised and new ships coming each and every year boasting first class features like indoor ice skating, cinemas, wave riders, water slides and speciality dining experiences P&O needed to do something new. They were no longer competitive in the family cruising bracket they had always specialised in and they knew it.

In a complete turnaround P&O have re-positioned themselves as a couples cruise specialist. The new brochure touting the two new ships on the way, the Eden and the Aria as well as makeovers for all the current ships have hit the shelves. Young and sexy models are seen relishing the cruise experience in all their childless glory and the company reps are working hard to ensure travel agents are aware they are now a couples orientated cruise experience.

Interestingly it is not the first time P&O have had to re-vamp their image. After the on-board death of 42 year old mother Dianne Brimble in 2002 in a suspected drug overdose the company scrambled to shake the image of the party hard cruise experience that they had been labelled with in the Aussie psyche. It took some time but they did manage to reposition themselves as a family friendly experience which worked well for many years, until now. The big boys have moved in and taken their position in the Aussie market.

So apart from the sexy young models in the brochures what else has P&O done to appeal to their new market? The newly renovated rooms, two pool decks, adults only retreat and a premium cinema are all a good start but much of the re-vamp is centred around what P&O are calling their Food Revolution! Banking on the current foodie trend happening in the under 40's age group P&O are attempting to revolutionise the way you eat on your cruise.

Banishing the buffet, three words I love to hear. Gone are the salad bars and bain marie's that have plagued cruising for too many years. Welcome "The Pantry". Heralded as an international marketplace featuring eight fresh food outlets "The Pantry" boasts individual stations each featuring their own specialist world cuisine. As you can imagine with my penchant for world cuisine this has sparked my interest.

Mouth-watering Mexican from tacos to burritos, the curry house featuring spicy Thai, Indian, Caribbean, South African and Singaporean curry's, pasture fed beef and slow cooked pork at the Fat Cow Carvery, gourmet desserts at the Sugar Bar and gourmet seafood at Hook's Fish and Chips it all sounds very enticing.

Launching on the Pacific Pearl in June time will tell if this is a food revolution or a "buffet" disguised in "marketplace" clothes. The liberal use of gourmet always brings out the sceptical side of me. But till June I will take it all at face value. It is great to see an Australian company that has been in a rut burst on to the scene with a new concept for Aussie cruisers.
Originally posted on Tuesday, 31 March 2015 by


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