Full P&O Cruises Fleet Returns to Sailing

The last of P&O Cruises' ships has returned to sailing for the second time, brining the full fleet into service with improved staffing.

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After a few extra months of canceled sailings due to staff member shortages, the entire P&O Cruises fleet in the U.K. has returned to passenger operations today with Arcadia finally resuming cruises for the second time.

The ship had initially begun sailing in early April, but quickly had cruises canceled due to crew staffing issues.

Arcadia Returns – Again

The Vista-class Arcadia set sail from Southampton, England on July 5, 2022 to begin a 14-night, roundtrip sailing that will visit ports in Norway, Iceland, and Ireland, including the iconic destinations of Alesund, Reykjavik, and Belfast.

This is the ship’s first passenger sailing since mid-April. The ship initially resumed service on March 27, 2022, but was quickly removed from service again because of crew staffing shortages that were dramatically impacting service quality.

At the time, P&O Cruises stated, “The current and extraordinary impact of COVID-19 in the UK, in the wider hospitality, service, and airline industry as a whole, has resulted in a temporary disruption to crewmembers available to join our ships.”

“As a result, P&O Cruises will be re-deploying crew from Arcadia to other ships in the fleet. This is being done in order to maintain the company’s high standards of service of which we are very proud, across the other five ships in the fleet.”

P&O Arcadia Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Wayleebird / Shutterstock

Now the ship has resumed service with improved staffing ratios, and is better able to offer guests the luxury cruise experience they expect from the highly rated cruise line. When fully staffed, Arcadia is home to 976 international crew members, providing service to as many as 2,388 passengers at full capacity.

Arcadia will remain homeported in Southampton through early January 2023, offering a variety of deluxe itineraries ranging from a 5-night short break sailing to an outstanding 100-night world cruise.

The world cruise sets sail on January 3, 2023, and will visit amazing destinations from the Caribbean to Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Egypt, and much more, before returning to Southampton on April 13, 2023. Guests can book the entire voyage, or opt for individual segments for shorter sailings in unique destinations.

Arcadia first entered service in April 2005 and was originally planned for Holland America Line, then Cunard Line, before eventually being assigned to P&O Cruises. She is the third ship in the P&O Cruises fleet to bear the name Arcadia.

Staffing Challenges Improving

Reassigning crew to other vessels has allowed P&O Cruises to ensure superior service on its ships at a time when the entire industry has been struggling to remain fully staffed.

The staffing challenges have been a result of travel restrictions and protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic, including quarantine and isolation periods as crew members may be exposed to potential infection or test positive for the virus themselves.

P&O Cruises Ship
Photo Credit: Smeerjewegproducties / Shutterstock

Travel complications in different regions have also made it difficult for crew members to reach their assigned ships, and in some areas, international paperwork processing has made it challenging to get crew members started on cruise ship contracts.

As restrictions continue to ease in light of the waning pandemic, cruise lines are able to improve staffing.

In the case of P&O Cruises, this means returning Arcadia to service. Aboard other cruise lines, it has meant the return of temporarily closed dining venues, resumption of special events for loyal past guests, continuing to increase onboard guest capacity, and other operational adjustments.

These improvements come as the busy summer sailing season is underway in Europe, Alaska, and the Caribbean, and more ships returning to service and offering greater options for eager travelers is a welcome step for the cruise industry.

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