Passengers will have to wait two years before they can book a holiday on P&O Cruises’ newest ship, and the maiden voyage won’t be until 2020, but the first hints of what the vessel will have in store were revealed last night.
The venue was the spectacular Sky Garden at the top of London’s Walkie Talkie building – appropriately enough for a ship that will have its own Sky Dome, an all-weather entertainment space with a pool and a stage.
The other main feature of the 5,200-passenger ship will be a broad half-mile Promenade – or Lanai Deck – that will be home to a selection of restaurants and bars, a concept borrowed from Norwegian’s Breakaway-class ships, MSC’s new Seaside class, and from vessels like Carnival Vista.
P&O was cagey about issuing images and renderings of the ship’s interiors, whose designers include Richmond International, who worked on Britannia for its launch in 2014.
But a model of the 180,000-ton ship on display at the event revealed that there will be surprisingly little space for sunloungers, and there appear to be only two small outdoor pools – in complete contrast to modern competitor ships that have large pool areas and extensive slides and water parks.
There’s another swimming pool, with a retractable glass roof, in the adult-only Retreat area at the front of the ship, and a fourth pool in the Oasis Spa.
Glass walls three decks high will allow light to flood into the ship’s Atrium, which features a grand staircase, gallery, and overhead walkways. Cabin designs are being prepared by Acumen (London), the studio which has worked on British Airways’ first class cabins, and the three-room Residence Suites for Etihad Airways
The ship will contain 17 places to eat, including seven speciality restaurants, nine choices for breakfast and five venues for afternoon tea.
Including the Dome, there will be a total of 13 entertainment spaces, from the theatre to an adults-only nightclub.
Behind the scenes, it will be the most environmentally-efficient in P&O’s history, with clean fuel liquefied natural gas as its primary power source at sea and in port.
A star-studded array of P&O celebrities was drafted in to the launch party, introduced by the disembodied voice of comedian Rob Brydon, the face of P&O’s TV ads.
Host Stephen Mulhern brought on Jonathan Wilkes – whose dance academy pupils performed a high-energy number from a show called Evolution, described as “Mad Max meets Avatar” – and Ruthie Henshall, who has created a production titled Money Makes The World Go Round, coming to Arcadia next month
Marco Pierre White provided tasty sausage rolls and Scotch eggs, while patissier Eric Lanlard prepared a delicious chocolate pave. A sensational taste of things to come.
The name of the ship will be announced after extensive consultations with P&O’s loyal customers.
Senior vice-president Paul Ludlow said: “Choice, flexibility and the ability to create individual holiday experiences on board will be at the heart of the new ship.
“Our vision is to offer the next generation of British guests the holiday of a lifetime. This new ship will bring an array of new cruising experiences to guests and attract newcomers to the brand.”