After months (or should that be years?) of anticipation, P&O CRUISES finally welcomed new ship Arvia to it’s fleet in late December 2022. In the build up to this exciting milestone, we caught up with President of P&O Cruises Paul Ludlow to discover more about what to expect from this brand-new ship, and what’s in store for the cruise line in 2023 and beyond.

What have been the highlights of the past year for P&O Cruises, and what do guests have to look forward to over the next 12 months?

A big highlight for all of us this year has been seeing the full P&O Cruises fleet return to service and once again doing what we do best and providing our guests with fantastic holidays. I am also delighted that Iona has had such a successful maiden season in the Norwegian Fjords. Iona has been particularly popular with new-to-cruise guests who have really embraced the new experiences on board, including the contemporary restaurants and bars. These include The 710 Club, which is a live-music bar crafted to Gary Barlow’s creative vision. There is also the SkyDome with its aerial performers and the new conservatory mini suites, offering guests additional indoor space and bifold doors opening onto a spacious balcony to maximise their enjoyment of the weather and views. Looking ahead to next year (2023), we’ll be looking forward to Arvia embarking on her first winter season to the Caribbean. We will also build on Iona’s Fjords season and there are many new itineraries across the fleet, including Britannia’s ‘island itineraries’ which include Mallorca and Ibiza, as well as new Scandinavian and Baltic Sea destinations.

What are you most excited to see on Arvia for the first time?

There are so many new innovations on Arvia it’s hard to choose one, but I can’t wait to see Greatest Days – The Official Take That Musical in The Headliner’s Theatre, which is exclusive to Arvia and will be a fantastic addition to the entertainment on board. There is a new swim-up bar, a first for P&O Cruises, where guests will be able to enjoy a cocktail or two in stunning surroundings. Most of all though I am so looking forward to Green & Co feat. Mizuhana, which is a new restaurant exclusive to Arvia that will offer guests deliciously crafted fish and plant-based dishes alongside a sushi bar.

Arvia’s swim-up bar

Which of Arvia’s features really make the most of the caribbean destinations she will be visiting?

From the very initial concept, Arvia has been created to be the epitome of a sunshine resort and developed to be an ideal way to enjoy the Caribbean’s turquoise waters and white sandy beaches. Every facet, including the retractable SkyDome, pools, bars, Altitude Skywalk high ropes and Grand Atrium, has been designed to provide exceptional views of the ocean, seashore and surrounding destinations. There are also exciting new shore experiences and Caribbean ports of call including La Romana in the Dominican Republic.

Altitude Skywalk

How do you expect ship design and the onboard offering will evolve over the coming years? Will P&O Cruises ships continue to get bigger, or are there any plans to introduce smaller ships to the fleet?

P&O Cruises ships cater for a variety of ages and tastes. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all holiday’ and the variety across the fleet reflects that. The itineraries on the ships are designed to match the guests they attract so that there is something for everyone. Similarly, the shore experiences in those destinations range from thrill-seeking RIB rides in the Fjords, off-the-beaten-track trails in Tenerife, or simply enjoying beautiful food and wine in a Mediterranean vineyard. The spaces on board the ships all allow for different ‘moments’ – so there are larger state-of-the-art theatres, intimate bars and corners to curl up with a glass of Olly Smith’s wine and a book.

What are the plans for itineraries moving forward, can customers expect any more unusual destinations to choose from?

We are constantly listening to feedback from guests to understand where they would like to visit next on their holidays. We’re excited to introduce Ibiza to our Britannia itineraries next summer, as well as having more overnight calls in places such as Lisbon, Barcelona and Tenerife. Guests can stay longer and get a new perspective on a destination and enjoy some of the authentic nightlife and culture.

Do you have a favourite destination that P&O Cruises visits, and why?

I can’t wait to go to Ibiza on board Britannia next summer, but the Caribbean is also very special as each island has its own different vibe, charm and national dish, all of which are fantastic.


What advice would you have for anyone who hasn’t travelled with P&O cruises before?

A P&O Cruises holiday offers great value for money with full-board dining, selected drinks, accommodation, children’s clubs and entertainment all included. It also offers a hassle-free way of travelling, as there is no luggage limit on cruises from the UK and by paying for everything in pounds, there are no currency exchange worries.

We offer lots of holidays departing from Southampton, so there is no hanging around for your holiday – it starts as soon as you get on board! There’s always an extensive range of dining options for every palate, from fleet favourites such as The Epicurean, Sindhu and The Glass House, or Iona icons such as The Keel & Cow and The Olive Grove. We also bring culinary expertise to our holidays; for example, queen of contemporary Caribbean cooking and Local Food Hero Shivi Ramoutar will celebrate her passion for Caribbean cuisine with a range of exclusive dishes on board Arvia, while acclaimed Spanish chef José Pizarro brings the taste of the Mediterranean to both Iona and Arvia.

The expertise doesn’t just end in our restaurants; we’ve partnered with Take That to bring Greatest Days – The Official Take That Musical to Arvia’s line-up of show-stopping entertainment. Arvia will be the only place in the world where guests will be able to watch this captivating show. We have the widest choice of entertainment and contemporary stage shows, including Festival, a modern story with feel-good anthems, and aerial shows by Creativiva on board Iona and Arvia, which brings acrobatics, aerial acts, physical theatre, dance and music to guests in a stunning setting. For those who want to test their head for heights, we’re introducing a high ropes experience, tropical themed mini-golf and water splash zone on the new top deck Altitude experience on Arvia. Our brand-new ship will also be home to Mission Control, a unique immersive experience, combining an escape game with multimedia simulation and a live-action story.

What travel trends do you think will emerge in 2023?

After the last few years, we know that guests are increasingly looking for ever-more thoughtful and meaningful travel experiences where they can really connect with the destination. Our new overnight stays in port, world cruises and longer discovery itineraries including Canada and New England will allow guests the time and space to enjoy a truly memorable holiday experience. Exploration journeys are also becoming increasingly popular, particularly with our new-to-cruise-guests, so we expect to see a busy Fjords season again where guests can enjoy helicopter rides, thrilling experiences designed by former SAS personnel or tranquil yoga in mountain retreats. Above all everyone wants value for money. A cruise, with all that is included, provides a holiday with unrivalled service, entertainment and experiences at unbeatable value.

To find out more about what a P&O cruise could offer you, browse their selection of cruises here.