I have just returned from a short break to somewhere I had never been before and, for the first time in a long while, I really switched off. I put my energies into exploring and opening my mind to the scenery, the people and the fresh air. As a result I feel reinvigorated and as if I have had a complete reset. We all get so entrenched in our day-to-day routine and into emails and decision-making that sometimes we lose sight of what we really need – and that is a complete escape and to be able to return with a clearer mindset, more energy and feeling totally refreshed and therefore able to give our whole and better selves to family, friends and work.

As I write, Iona is on her second cruise to the Norwegian fjords and my social media feed is dominated by incredible images of snow-capped mountains and the bluest skies from our press group who are on board. Captain Dunlop also described it as “the breath-taking majesty that is Norway…and Iona.”  These images bring so much joy to me and, I am sure, to their audience – it is true escapism and shows cruising and this spectacular region in all its glory.

Seeing these images you could not fail to marvel at the range of new and varied shore experiences – yoga in the Blue Mountain in Olden, the incredible Pulpit Rock, hiking up to the glacier in Olden, a high speed rib ride and crayfish lunch and helicopter ride over the fjords are just a few, as well as the quaint villages and the 12th century cathedral in Stavanger which was modelled on the one in Winchester. Anyone with a love of the outdoors and an appreciation of the restorative mountain air combined with the comforts and design of Iona would have the most unforgettable week on board. That’s what memories are made of and if you haven’t booked a concession yet for this year then I would certainly recommend this as an experience.

And from snow to white sands. Earlier this month we held a Caribbean-themed event to promote Arvia’s maiden season from Barbados. A venue in central London was transformed with palm trees, parrots and a lot of rum as we announced our new partnership with The Tidal Rum and the first rum distillery at sea. I am sure this will be as popular on Arvia as the gin still is on Iona. The theme of the event was “pick n’mix” – highlighting the many different activities and options for dining, entertainment and island experiences.

Design and build of Arvia is gathering momentum and, as we look forward to the delivery in December, it will be testament to the hard work and attention to detail of so many of our shoreside teams.

Our teams on board, meanwhile, are welcoming back many thousands of guests each week. I was on Azura recently and it was so good to hear first-hand from the SMT and crew members about their issues (a few) and positive experiences (many) they have had during their winter season.

One of the many challenges caused by Covid is that of the travel disruption which has made it very difficult to transfer crew members from their home countries to the UK and onto our ships. As a result, and as you know, we had to take the very difficult decision to take Arcadia out of service for a few weeks in order to transfer their crew members to the rest of the fleet. This really was so hard to do but we will not compromise on the standards of service we give to our guests. Whilst it may not have seemed so at the time it was a positive move which will ensure that our teams on the other ships feel supported and are able to have the colleagues they need in order to carry out their roles to the best of their ability.

As always, I am so proud and grateful to everyone on board our ships but particularly as we face and overcome these challenges which are very evident in the wider travel and hospitality industry at the moment. As an example, I stayed in a hotel in London recently and was told very clearly that there was no housekeeping service available during my stay. They only clean and service the rooms upon check out. I compared this to the extraordinary attention we provide for our guests each day in the cabins and throughout the ship. There would definitely be mutiny if we adopted the same principles (can you imagine?!) – although we would never do so as we pride ourselves on our service, cleanliness and immaculate spaces which are an inherent part of the P&O Cruises guest experience.

And this pride extends across our Carnival Corporation brands as several of our sister companies launch new ships and are seeing very good demand – Carnival Cruise Line in particular. There certainly is no better or more visible symbol of hope for the future of our industry than a gleaming brand new multi-million dollar ship ready to receive guests and in around 200 days Arvia will be doing just that. Now that’s something to focus the mind isn’t it?

As we embrace our hybrid working I look forward to seeing you all in the office and don’t forget to book an escape to somewhere you have never been before… I promise you, you won’t regret it.

Take care,


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