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  1. Yes, very sad. We did our first cruise on Oriana in 1995, to Istanbul and have never forgotten it. We had watched a documentary series called ‘Supership Oriana’ which covered the design, build, fit out, sea trials and entry into service of the ‘first cruise ship designed and built specifically for the U.K. market’. We decided to give cruising a go as the ship really appealed. We were quite apprehensive, knowing that we would be much younger than most other cruisers (less than half the age, as it turned out) and even went to Ballroom Dancing lessons thinking that it was almost compulsory (we were hopeless, so went to the pub instead in fits of laughter). Many years later we had a very enjoyable 2 weeks in the Baltic on Oriana, when the ship got absolutely covered in a swarm of ladybirds in Travemunde and we carried millions of them around the Baltic for a few days, the crew sweeping up piles of them each day as they expired. We also had our best meals at sea in Oriana Rhodes. Sadly, when my wife became wheelchair bound and we needed an accessible balcony cabin we had to abandon Oriana as she has no provision, so our new favourite is Aurora. Let’s hope that she has many more years left in her.
  2. I agree with many others that P&O are not going after the ballroom dancing type of cruiser with Iona and, I would suggest, all future new ships. I would also go so far as to say that they actively want to move away from that sort of image of cruising in order to attract a new generation of clientele, so are unlikely to bow to pressure to reverse the decision. We consider ourselves to be ‘traditional cruisers’ having done our first P&O cruise ‘in the last century’ as a previous poster so amusingly put it and my wife is a Strictly Come Dancing addict, but we don’t dance ourselves and wouldn’t be remotely interested in watching others do so when on a cruise. On the basis that the average age of cruiser on ships like Iona and Britannia is / will be 10-15 years younger than us, the proportion of passengers who would be attracted to this sort of activity would be, I would suggest, negligible as a percentage of the number of passengers onboard. To further underline this point, I have lost count of the number of older cruisers who have told us that they wouldn’t set foot on Britannia / Iona. You read the same sort of comments on this forum continuously. Although the passenger profile on the larger resort ships is very different (and, if I am being completely honest, is less to our liking as a result), we love the modern facilities and Select Dining Options that they offer and would be the sort of customers that would cruise on these ships in school term time. I doubt that we are alone, but there will be a heck of a lot of cabins to fill once Iona’s sister ship is launched, so I think there will be some cheap cruises in order to fill the ships, something that they always seem to be able to do.
  3. In short, no I wouldn’t want to do 2 nights in the same port. That’s more a city break than a cruise in my book. If I’m paying for a cruise then I want to be moving between lots of different places - that’s the attraction for us. Both yourself and DaiB refer to cruises being in St Petersburg for 2 nights. We have been there twice and I am pretty certain that we were only overnight for one night i.e. arrive early day 1, full day and overnight in St Petersburg, 2nd full day in St Petersburg departing in the evening of 2nd day - so one night in port. I think that’s the norm but I am prepared to be corrected. For the reason given in my first paragraph, I’m not even that keen on one overnight in port, but there are one or two exceptions. Last year we did a USA & Canada cruise and the first stop was New York. We arrived at lunchtime day 1 and left early evening of day 2. In less than 2 days (with just one overnight) we visited the 9/11 Memorial and museum, did a Harbour Lights (Manhattan by night) City Line river cruise, walked around 42nd St, Broadway, Time Square (at night), Grand Central Station, Empire State Building (nighttime visit - stunning), dinner in Manhattan, Top of the Rock (Rockefeller building - daytime visit, great contrast to the Empire State nighttime visit the previous night), Rockefeller Plaza, 5th Avenue (including a costly stop in Tiffany’s ;)), Trump Tower (the President was in so we watched the comings and goings), Central Park, Strawberry Fields & Dakota Building (John Lennon), long walk from there to lower Manhattan for the Highline (elevated park walk converted from railroad) which we walked the full length of in both directions and then from there back to the ship. All of that we did in one and a half days with just one overnight, almost all of it on foot - and I was pushing my wife in her wheelchair throughout! On the basis that I can think of few places where there is more to see and do than New York, if we can do all of that in a day and a half with just one overnight then hopefully you can see why I wouldn’t want 2 night stops. A lot of passengers have said to us over the years that one of the things that they like about cruises where you have no overnights is that you get a good taste of a place and if you find somewhere that you really love you can consider a city break there at another time. The cynic in me, however, suggests that overnights in port will become more common. It will be sold as ‘due to passenger requests’ but will be because it’s cheaper for the cruise operator to sit in port than to be burning fuel at sea and paying for more ports.
  4. Having cancelled a couple of CPS bookings, I can confirm that the 10% cancellation fee only applies if you have actually paid for parking yourself with CPS. Passengers who have opted for ‘free parking’ with their P&O booking are able to switch between free parking and additional on board credit (or vice versa) prior to the cruise and there is no penalty charge for this whatsoever (I book direct with P&O, but I assume it’s the same with a Travel Agent / Cruise Specialist). Whether you can do that within days of sailing I do not know. However, in your case, I would stick with CPS. It’s important to note that the change is still in the trial stage and will only affect 4 cruises at Ocean Terminal (until it becomes a permanent feature at that terminal). The change in CPS vehicle check-in simply makes them offer a service that is identical to several of the other providers, such as Parking4Cruises, so unless you are going to save a lot of money there would be no advantage in changing. The issue being flagged here is that the ability to check in the car directly in front of the terminal (where the porters are) is currently only possible with CPS and that facility will be lost. As the vast majority of drivers use CPS (as it is the default parking operator offered by P&O) it can also take a lot longer to check in your car with CPS (due to stacking lanes) than to drop off passengers and luggage and then drive to the short stay car park to check in with another operator and walk back to the terminal. The other operators are usually only cheaper than CPS on longer cruises. 7 day parking is usually no cheaper and with 14 day cruises the saving can be minimal. We did a 21 night cruise last year and saved well over £100 by not using CPS.
  5. I have had several email exchanges with CPS on this issue Dai and they are saying that customers will be expected to take their luggage to the terminal (as was experienced first hand by those on the cruises where this was trialled). This was also confirmed in a notice from CPS to P&O under the ‘what differences will customers notice?’ section (which was read to me over the phone by my P&O contact). They are saying that assistance should be available for disabled customers but fail to state how that will be delivered if no porters are stationed there. Perhaps they are called as required? Safest bet for disabled passengers using CPS would be to drop off first (passengers and luggage) in the drop off lane (where the porters will remain) and then drive to CPS check in, but they won’t suggest that because, as you say, chaos may ensue if everyone did it.
  6. The porters will remain, but at the terminal where CPS currently check in cars. The problem is that they won’t be at the new CPS covered check in facility at Ocean Terminal.
  7. I think you should be able to do that John, as long as there’s a clear route from the drop off exit to the CPS check in, without having to go back around again and re-enter the terminal area. Too much uncertainty for me, so I have cancelled the ‘free’ parking for our Iona cruise, taken more OBC and booked parking elsewhere.
  8. Yes, that would be possible, as it is exactly what many passengers (including ourselves) do when using operators other than CPS. The main problem, however, would be the confusion when customers meet the first parking marshall on arrival. Dependent upon whether passengers are dropping off or using CPS they are directed to different places. CPS customers would have to be explicit that they are parking with CPS but wish to drop off luggage first and hope that the marshall directs them to the taxi / drop off lane (the lane closest to the terminal building) and explains how to then get from that lane to the new CPS drop off. If the driver isn’t explicit enough, or isn’t aware of this change (and keep in mind that 99% of CPS customers will not have read this thread and CPS are not alerting customers to this change or suggesting that as a compromise), or the parking marshall just hears ‘CPS’, then the customer will have missed the opportunity to drop luggage at the terminal. As I said before, the biggest issue here, aside from the added inconvenience, is the fact that CPS is considerably more expensive than the other operators (certainly on 14 days or more, where it can be as much as twice the price) but currently has a unique selling point that it is the only provider where you can check your car in at the actual terminal. Some are suggesting that CPS will surely have to reduce their prices with that USP having been lost (at Ocean Terminal only). I would bet a significant amount of money that they won’t as, being the default provider for P&O, most people will continue to opt for ‘free’ parking, oblivious to the fact that it isn’t and it is dead easy to take additional ‘on board credit’ in lieu and then book parking with another operator at reduced cost.
  9. As others have said, it’s definitely one per person. It’s a confusing form to fill in and I couldn’t find any P&O guidance on what to put as an address (but ‘in transit’ sounds sensible) so I googled the Carnival office in New York and put that. They were accepted on that basis! My wife's was accepted immediately and mine came back as ‘we need to do further checks’ which was a bit alarming, especially as it then took a few days before it was approved (mind you, I failed to pay a speeding fine when in Miami around 30 years ago so I am on America’s Most Wanted list). Anyhow it was eventually approved. I took printed copies with me just in case. They weren’t needed, but knowing what US immigration is like...
  10. Interesting, but having now had dialogue with both CPS and P&O about this issue, I believe that CPS are being somewhat disingenuous here. The change in drop off arrangement has come from CPS. It has been a source of some frustration to many cruisers that if you arrive at Ocean Terminal at certain times you can be held in stacking lanes for some time prior to be called forward to the drop off / vehicle checking lanes. This was a source of irritation to us when we had arrived at the terminal prior to midday (in order to be checked in and take advantage of early boarding privileges that we were entitled to), only to lose much of this time advantage through CPS delays. Friends of ours on another Britannia cruise arrived just before their dedicated embarkation time slot and were queuing for over an hour to drop their car with CPS, which really annoyed them. CPS (in the communication that they sent to P&O explaining the changes) believe that the new arrangement will avoid this stacking problem (which they don’t need at Mayflower with the smaller ships). We shall see. I strongly suspect that the ‘blame P&O’ line is in reference to the lack of porters in the new area, as they tried that one on me. However, it is important to note that neither the terminal nor the porters are under the control of P&O. The terminal, as with all of Southampton Docks, is owned by Associated British Ports. I don’t know for sure (so this bit is pure speculation on my part), but I strongly suspect that the porters operate within a unionised environment and will have expressed some dissatisfaction at having to convey luggage over much greater distances, a dissatisfaction that may of course ease if they received a pay rise (i.e. typical trade union modus operandi). If CPS hadn’t thought this through, or haven’t been able to negotiate porter service from the new drop off area yet, it is very easy (as, to be fair, the porters are not within their control) to say ‘you need to speak to P&O about that’, as they said to me. Of course, it’s not within P&O’s control either so, as is often the case in such situations, the customer is stuck in the middle. Of course, DaiB makes a very good point, which could undermine my theory, that most passengers are quite content when returning from their cruise to push their luggage to their car - a distance that is further than the distance required to push their luggage into the terminal from the new drop off area when they embark - and CPS may have just decided that if it’s not an issue when passengers disembark then it shouldn’t be an issue when they embark (and ‘new to cruising’ passengers, of which many using Iona and Britannia will be, will know no different). Then, all they have to do when those of us who know differently complain about the loss of porters, is say ‘speak to P&O’!
  11. Very good point Dai and you are of course correct. I guess that the biggest issue is that for cruises of 14 nights or more CPS can be twice the price of the other operators and the only thing that they offer that can justify a higher price is the ability to drop the car directly in front of the terminal and have porters take the luggage from you at your car. Of course, most passengers probably just accept ‘free parking’, unaware that if they opted for additional OBC they could book parking themselves for a much cheaper cost than the extra OBC they have been given. That fact, along with CPS being in partnership with P&O, will no doubt provide them with no incentive to lower their prices.
  12. I am assured that there is no change to drop off arrangements at Mayflower.
  13. Apparently the new CPS drop off area is covered, if that helps. I agree that there is no reason why porters should not be available, but CPS will not commit to it and are suggesting that they won’t. They say that porters are not employed by them and are suggesting that assistance will be provided to disabled passengers only, other passengers being expected to take their luggage (presumably on trolleys) ‘the short distance to the terminal’. For some that won’t be an issue. For others it will be.
  14. Further Update I have spoken to my very helpful contact at P&O who has read me the communication that they have received from CPS. It was as vague as the communication CPS had with me, but added some extra detail to my last update (posted on this thread yesterday). The ‘new’ CPS vehicle drop procedure is currently being trialled on 4 Britannia cruises, but the assumption is that it will become standard practice at Ocean Terminal (only) for all Britannia and Iona cruises. In the email, CPS have a section that’s titled ‘what will customers notice that is different?’ which goes on to state; 1) The new car drop facility is approx 30 metres from the terminal (Note - they had told me 20 metres but I don’t believe that either can be true, as you walk further than that in the current drop off lanes! I suspect that it’s 30 metres outside the perimeter of the defined terminal area, so the walking distance will be much further). 2) The stacking lanes (that can currently cause prolonged waits before you are even called forward to the drop off lanes) will no longer be used. Drivers will be directed to the new drop off area upon arrival (Note - how that will result in shorter wait times I fail to understand, unless they have significantly more staff to check in and remove cars - which I doubt). 3) Passengers will then be expected to take their own luggage to the terminal building. Trolleys will be provided, but not porters. 4) Assistance should be available for disabled passengers. This new procedure means that CPS loses its unique point of difference over all the other cruise parking operators (i.e. checking in the car immediately in front of the terminal building) at Ocean Terminal. I have a booking with them from Mayflower cruise terminal in November and will keep that one (as the process should be unchanged) but I have cancelled my booking for next years cruise from Ocean Terminal and re-booked with another company.
  15. I haven’t noticed that, but one that I can never understand is the use of the made up word ‘yous’ in places like Liverpool. I wondered if it was a misguided belief that it is a plural of ‘you’ but I’m sure that I hear people saying it to individuals. Confused.
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