Does Adonia's transfer mark the end of smaller-ship cruises?

Last week was certainly a busy week for the cruise industry, with Cunard confirming intentions to add a fourth vessel to their fleet. There was also news regarding P&O Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises, regarding the transfer of a ship from the former. The 30,277GT Adonia, which is currently the smallest vessel of the P&O Cruises fleet, will move from Carnival’s P&O Cruises to Royal Caribbean’s Azamara Club Cruises in March 2018.

The 704-passenger will operate her last sailing for P&O Cruises on February 23rd 2018, which will be a roundtrip sailing out of Barbados. After this, she will be transferred to Azamara Club Cruises, where she will be renamed as Azamara Pursuit and become the third addition the adventure-based fleet. Details of itineraries are yet to be confirmed, but, being a similar size to the line’s other two vessels, it is expected that the new addition will operate itineraries that incorporate smaller destinations that are less easily accessible by larger ships.


Despite being popular among cruisers for her smaller size and ability to reach more inaccessible destinations, this is not the first time the P&O Cruises vessel has embarked on new ventures. Between 2016 and 2017, parent company, Carnival, made the decision to switch her to an entirely new voluntourism line known as Fathom. Itineraries were focussed on making a significant social difference in Cuba, with passengers getting the chance to directly help local communities. However, Fathom was discontinued in June 2017, with the vessel returning to P&O Cruises.

The transfer certainly indicates a statement of intent from P&O Cruises, with plans to switch from smaller vessels to larger and more modern vessels that are packed with amenities. Earlier this year, it was announced that the line would be launching a new vessel in 2020. To put things into perspective, at 180,000GT, it will be almost six times the size of Adonia and cater for approximately 5,200 guests. This announcement also comes just two years after the launch of Britannia, which became the largest vessel to cater specifically for a British market and accommodates a capacity of more than 4,300 passengers.


Offering the best of British has always been at the forefront of P&O Cruises, with amenities on the newer and larger vessels taking this factor into account. A number of restaurants and dining venues on board the line’s newest ship, Britannia, have been endorsed by chefs and culinary geniuses that are popular with British passengers. Other new features include the Cookery Club, where passengers can learn directly from a number of industry experts on how to create a range of top dishes.

The title of smallest ship to sail for P&O Cruises now goes to Oriana – which weighs in at 69,153GT and is also the oldest vessel of the fleet. The current trend across some of the larger lines in the industry is to offer larger and newer vessels to passengers, with lines including Royal Caribbean, Cunard, Norwegian Cruise Line and MSC Cruises all intending to offer some of the largest and most impressive vessels in the world over the next decade.

Passengers seeking cruises on board smaller ships may have to seek adventures with luxury lines including Oceania Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Star Clippers and Regent Seven Seas. Each of these lines has either added or has stated intention to add new vessels to their fleet which are significantly smaller in size. Alternatively, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines and Cruise and Maritime Voyages both offer itineraries on board traditional smaller ships, most of which have been renovated multiple times rather than replaced.

Adonia was one of the longest-serving vessels for P&O Cruises and, although progressively larger vessels have joined their fleet, passengers have remained loyal to this traditional vessel. Unfortunately, it looks likely that more and more of the larger lines will retire their smaller vessels in the years to come. Fortunately, however, other lines have realised the appeal of these ships and know that there are plenty of holiday-makers who prefer a more intimate style of cruising.

The cruise industry of the 21st century is more diverse now than it has ever been before, with more lines understanding the importance of catering towards a specific market. If you love cruising and are seeking a new and exciting challenge, you may be interested to find out more about the franchise business opportunity available with GoCruise.

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