There’s a bit of a mystery developing over the future of Artemis, the smallest ship in P&O’s fleet. The French website Mer et Marine reported earlier today that the vessel had been sold to German cruise line Phoenix Reisen and could be sailing under a new flag by next summer.
Which struck me as rather unlikely, because P&O announced earlier this week that Artemis was scheduled to set out on a spectacular 98-night grand voyage to the Far East in January 2011.
My first call to P&O’s head office in Southampton was met with a flat denial.
By the afternoon, however, it looked like there might be developments, and I received a statement which read: “We do have interest in our ships from time to time and we currently have an enquiry for Artemis from an unnamed source. However, we can confirm that Artemis will definitely operate her programme of cruises as currently published.”
So I reckon that if the price is right, P&O could be saying farewell to the ship in April 2011. Watch this space.
The ship was built as Royal Princess, and named by Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1984. It was re-named (after the Greek goddess of hunting) and transferred to P&O in 2005. The 44,500-ton vessel carries 1,200 passengers in 600 cabins, all with a sea view, but there are only 152 balcony cabins, a small proportion by today’s standards.
Next year, the P&O fleet will be boosted by the arrival of Azura, sister ship to the 3,000-passenger Ventura, so there will be plenty of berths to go round. But passengers wanting to experience the intimate, child-free atmosphere of Artemis might have to move fast.