Farewell then, Adonia. The smallest ship in the P&O Cruises fleet will leave the UK next year and sail off to a new venture as the flagship for a social impact tourism project to be launched by the giant Carnival Corporation.
Instead of carrying 710 British passengers at a time on voyages to the Mediterranean, northern Europe, or further afield to South America, the vessel will be taking voluntourists on 7-day voyages from Miami to the Dominican Republic.
Travelling with the new fathom venture, they will be given the chance to work on activities such as providing clean water, planting crops to help a women’s co-operative produce organic chocolate, and teaching English to the islanders.
On board the ship, instead of watching West End-style shows and lazing in the sun, they will be able to embark on an “immersive experience” with Spanish lessons, community-building activities, and briefings about the work to come.
Carnival hopes the project will appeal to “a growing market of consumers who want to have a positive impact on people’s lives.” The expected market is 20 to 60-year-olds and families who “want to give something back.”
All fathom fares are priced in US dollars and the cruises cannot be booked through UK travel agents, so it is unclear how many Brits will be attracted to take part.
Adonia was the last of eight almost identical ships built for the now-defunct Renaissance Cruises. After spells as Minerva II and Royal Princess, she joined P&O in 2011 when she was christened by Dame Shirley Bassey.
The ship will be spending winter in the Caribbean and her last cruise in P&O colours will be a 14-night voyage from Barbados to the Amazon in March 2016. A scheduled voyage returning to Southampton has been cancelled.