End of an era as Carnival winds up P&O Australia

Popular cruise line P&O Australia will cease to exist next year.

Parent company Carnival Corporation announced this week that it will ‘sunset’ the brand and fold the Australian operations into Carnival Cruise Line. 

“P&O Cruises Australia is a storied brand with an amazing team, and we are extremely proud of everything we have accomplished together in Australia and the broader region,” said Carnival Corporation chief executive officer Josh Weinstein. 

“However, 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. 

“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.”

The Pacific Encounter and Pacific Adventure ships will be rebranded and operated by the Carnival Cruise Line brand. Pacific Explorer will exit the fleet in February 2025. Current itineraries will operate business as usual, and guests will be notified in the coming days of any booking alterations as a result of the changes.

All itineraries on the Pacific Explorer scheduled to sail after 2 March 2025 have already been cancelled. Affected passengers will be offered a refund or credit with bonus onboard spending money.

While onboard staff will be redeployed, some officer workers will lose their jobs.

When the transition is complete next year, Carnival Cruise Line – which has served the South Pacific since 2013 – will have four ships in the market, including Sydney-based Carnival Splendor and Carnival Luminosa sailing seasonally from Brisbane, in addition to their new sister ships Encounter and Adventure

Carnival Corporation owns nine cruise lines. They are Aida Cruises, Carnival Cruise, Costa Cruises, Cunard, Holland America, P&O Australia, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises and Seabourn Cruises.

Carnival also announced this year that Cunard would no longer base ships in Australia. Cunard’s ships will visit the country, but only as part of an itinerary. 

Carnival Corporation owns an estimated 45 per cent of the world cruising market.

There is speculation that Carnival’s decision to reduce its fleet in Australia was partly driven by escalating port fees in both Melbourne and Sydney

P&O began its life in the early 19th century as a shipping line named the Peninsular Steam Navigation Company, operating between England, Spain and Portugal. The name was changed to the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company in 1840. The company’s red, yellow, blue and white flag represents the white and blue of the Portuguese flag and the red and yellow of the Spanish flag.

Passenger cruises were introduced in 1844, the first of their kind. But more unsavoury cargo soon followed when P&O entered the opium trade in 1847, and shipped 642,000 chests of opium over the next 11 years.

P&O had a mix of mail, cargo and passenger ships, and had almost 500 ships at the company’s peak in the 1920s.

The company first came to Australia in 1932, when the passenger ship the Strathaird conducted a cruise between Brisbane and Norfolk Island.

Have you been affected by the decision to close down P&O Australia? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: Feeling like royalty on one of Cunard’s ‘queens’

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisherhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/JanFisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.
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