There’s a new look coming to P&O Cruises. The buff-coloured funnels that have been a feature of its ships for more than 80 years are to disappear, and the fleet will sport giant versions of the Union Flag on their bows.
Funnels are to be re-painted in blue and will sport the company’s familiar rising sun logo, which originated as the Oriental part of the Peninsular and Oriental name on its coat of arms.
The new livery will be seen first on Aurora, following a visit to dry dock for scheduled maintenance in September.
It will be emblazoned on the line’s newest and biggest ship, Britannia, which is scheduled for launch in February 2015. The remaining six ships in the fleet will get the new look before the end of 2016.
At more than 94 metres (308 feet), Britannia’s version of the Union Flag is claimed to be the longest in the world.
David Dingle, chief executive of parent company Carnival UK, said: “In our 177th year we are unveiling a new, contemporarily styled livery which symbolises all that we stand for, pointing to the future and celebrating our British heritage. This bold new look will make our ships … recognisable across the world.”
P&O Cruises’ roots date back to 1837, when the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company was awarded a lucrative Admiralty contract to carry mail to the Iberian peninsula.
Until 1921, P&O ships had black hulls and funnels. RMS Strathnaver, built in the Vickers-Armstrong yard at Barrow-in-Furness, was the first to have a white hull and buff funnels – three of them. When she retired in 1962, Strathnaver was replaced on the service to Australia by the SS Canberra.
Early reaction to the new look has been predictably mixed with even some of those in favour predicting a lot of spluttering into pink gins from certain sections of P&O’s market.
Some welcome the hull designs while questioning the need to change the funnels.
Others have pointed out the contradiction between having Union Flags on the ships’ bows and their Bermuda-based registration port on the stern.