P&O Cruises set to exit Australia

Travel

After nearly 100 years of service, P&O Cruises Australia is scheduled to cease operations early next year and fold into parent company Carnival Cruise Line.
Image: Getty

The announcement was made by the parent company, Carnival Corporation & plc, which stated that P&O would be integrated into its sister line, Carnival Cruise Line, by March 2025.

Carnival’s CEO, Josh Weinstein, cited the region’s “small population” along with “significantly higher operating and regulatory costs” as key factors influencing the decision.

“Given the strategic reality of the South Pacific’s small population and significantly higher operating and regulatory costs, we’re adjusting our approach to give us the efficiencies we need to continue delivering an incredible cruise experience year-round to our guests in the region,” Weinstein said in a statement.

“Carnival Corporation … remains committed to Australia and we will continue to be the largest cruise operator in the region with 19 ships calling on 78 destinations and representing almost 60 per cent of the market.”

As part of this integration process, two of P&O’s ships, the Pacific Encounter and Pacific Adventure, will be rebranded and continue sailing under the Carnival Cruise Line flag. However, the Pacific Explorer will be retired from the fleet. This decision has led to the cancellation of all scheduled Pacific Explorer cruises post-March 2, 2025.

In a statement on its website, P&O said affected customers would soon receive direct communications from P&O’s guest services regarding refunds and other related details.

Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, who reportedly flew in from America for the announcement, acknowledged the emotional weight of the decision but attempted to downplay changes to the current onboard experience.

“This is not an easy decision for the company to shut down or sunset the P&O Australia brand.”

Christine Duffy

The rebranding and operational consolidation are expected to lead to job losses, though exact numbers are yet unclear.

“We will continue to maintain an office here in Sydney. We don’t want to get into the numbers of people this impacts,” Duffy added.

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