Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2022

6 0 In addition, there has generally been huge delight and enthusiasm by everyone involved at the destination – from port workers to taxi drivers – to see the ships again. “It shows how the cruise industry makes a huge economic contribution to the places that we visit,” says Ludlow. “This has been proven categorically during the lay-up period and now we are welcomed back with open arms.” Welcoming the crew back onboard has also been monumental, according to Ludlow. “It is great to have the crew back – their enthusiasm has been energising. We forecast that we would have some natural attrition from people moving on, but the number of people wanting to come back – even those who had found other work in the meantime – has surpassed our expectations. Such is their love for the role that they did. It has been heartening to see that we can bring back the skill, talent and muscle memory these folk have because it means that we can restart even more confidently.” Now that P&O Cruises has come through a period of uncertainty, is rapidly increasing capacity with Iona and Arvia on the horizon, and is due to have all the ships operational this year, Ludlow says: “Now is a great opportunity for P&O Cruises to take stock, continue to improve, strengthen the guest proposition and start to think what the next chapter is.” Like everyone, Ludlow is keen to get back to business as usual but says: “One thing this pandemic has done, which is perhaps a silver lining, is make P&O Cruises a closer, stronger, and more efficient and dynamic business. The way we communicate internally, the way we prioritise changing landscapes and situations, it is now easier. It is a skill that we have learnt.” Looking at how the industry generally may evolve post pandemic, Ludlow says: “Speaking from personal experience, the past two years has reminded us all just how important holidays are – there’s not much that can beat the enjoyment you get from researching, booking, anticipating and then travelling. Whatever might change in the world post-Covid, one thing that is going to be more solidified is that people will want their holidays. “We are seeing that people are making decisions even earlier – by booking early they can get what they want, whether it’s a particular destination, cabin size, ship or time of year. And people are prepared to pay more for the exact things they want. “I think as an industry we will see an improvement in demand and a willingness to spend more on the holiday, whether onboard or on ticket price. The upshot of this awful pandemic is that people want their holidays to really count and as a result people will do whatever it takes to get that.” CFR INTERV IEW Songefjord in Norway is one of the many destinations P&O Cruises sails to each year