P&O Cruises President Addresses Airline Partner Change

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P&O Cruises, a UK cruise brand owned by Carnival Corporation, is expected to soon announce a new airline partner to provide charter services for its lucrative and popular Caribbean fly-cruise packages from UK airports. The cruise line is home-porting two ships in Barbados during the current winter 2024 season and the fall/winter 2024-25 season.

Charter Service Prompted Complaints From Cruisers

P&O Cruises appears poised to walk away from Maleth Aero, one of the air charter services it has used to transport cruisers from the UK to Bridgetown, Barbados, where it seasonally homeports two mega-ships, Arvia and Britannia.

The anticipated change follows complaints from travel agents and cruisers about Maleth Aero’s lack of premium seating and inflight entertainment on long-haul flights from the UK to Barbados. 

Paul Ludlow, president of P&O Cruises and Carnival UK, referred to the problems in a video posted on X on February 20, 2024. Along with Maleth Aero, the cruise line has also been using TUI Airways for its charter services, and that arrangement appears steady.

“I know that we’ve had some flight issues this season and for anyone who has been impacted by those, we are so sorry. We are delighted to be partnering again with TUI next season and we are also confirming our airline partner and will update you as soon as possible,” Paul Ludlow, president of P&O Cruises and Carnival UK, said in the video.

Ludlow did not indicate which airline might replace the charter flights serviced by Maleth Aero, which is described on its LinkedIn page as a Maltese wet lease company, part of the AELF group, based in Chicago. It fleet consists of six wide-body passenger and cargo aircraft.

Maleth Aero had been contracted to provide some charter flights from the UK’s Gatwick and Manchester airports to Barbados and Antigua. Arvia and Britannia are deployed to the Caribbean until late March 2024. 

Read Also: When is the Best Time to Cruise the Caribbean?

It is unclear whether Maleth Aero is continuing to operate the UK charters, however, TUI Airways is expected to keep operating its charter services for the cruise line.

Seasonal Homeports Beckon UK Cruisers

P&O Cruises’ 5,200-guest Arvia is an Excellence-class ship that entered service in March 2023, and was christened in Barbados, which became her seasonal homeport. The ship operates 7-day cruises between Bridgetown, Barbados, and St. John, Antigua. Port calls include St. Kitts, Martinique, and St. Lucia.

P&O Arvia Cruise Ship in St. Lucia
Photo Courtesy: Ministry of Tourism Saint Lucia

Britannia, with capacity for 3,647 guests, is an older ship, having debuted in 2015. Notably, she was christened by Queen Elizabeth II. The ship, based in Barbados, operates 14-night sailings that call at Curacao, Bonaire, St. Vincent, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, Antigua, and St. Maarten.

Both ships will sail transatlantic voyages to Southampton in April 2024, and begin a series of summer cruises. Arvia will sail Mediterranean itineraries while Britannia will offer Northern Europe and Scandinavia cruises.

Arvia and Britannia will return to their Caribbean homeports in late October 2024 and remain there for the 2024-25 winter season.

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