Iona sets a precedent for a new type of holiday, says P&O Cruises boss Paul Ludlow

P&O Cruises targeting new-to-cruise market with Iona

P&O Cruises is pushing hard to attract new-to-cruise customers as it prepares to fill Iona, according to the line’s senior vice president.

Iona, which joins the fleet in 2020, will sail to the Norwegian Fjords for her inaugural season. It will be joined by a sister ship in 2022, representing an increase in capacity of 50 per cent.

Speaking at a trade event, Paul Ludlow, senior vice president, told of how scrapping the discretionary service charge and running itineraries of seven nights were steps to persuade people to try a cruise.

“This is a huge increase in capacity for P&O Cruises. Iona gives us a great opportunity to do new things and bring in new dining experiences. That duration (seven nights) gives people a chance to see if they like it and it’s a great opportunity to try P&O for the first time.

“We know we have a loyal customer base, but we need to find new customers. It’s about branching out and showing why a cruise with us is such great value.

“Our destinations appeal. The Norwegian Fjords, for example… that is a bucket-list destination for many people.”

When pressed on how it would reach out to a new market, Alex Delamere-White, the line’s sales and distribution vice-president, said it was about engagement with travel partners and allowing them to share their experiences with potential passengers.

He added: “We want to get more people selling cruise and reward them for that. It has to be a win-win.”

Ludlow also added that pre-registration for Iona’s sailings, which opened on 3 September, is up 100 per cent compared to when Britannia launched in 2014.

As for the age range of passengers, Ludlow mentioned how, on an Azura cruise earlier this year, 73 per cent of guests were under 55.

“We have a saying here of life being at 100 per cent. When our passengers come on one of our cruises, everything is elevated.”

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