I have been reflecting on my (almost) 17 years in the industry (see my about me page), and one thing that really sticks in my mind from my first days selling cruises is how people that had cruised for many years would always answer my question ‘Have you Cruised before’ with ‘Oh yes I was cruising on the Canberra’. Now I started in travel in 2001 and the Canberra went out of service in September 1997, so I had never sold a cruise on Canberra, but I feel that I know the ship and its illustrious career quite well.
Well here is what I know about the ship (and please feel free to comment below if you have any memories of her). She entered service as a purpose-built Ocean Liner with P&O (P&O offers) in 1961, operating UK to Australia. In 1974 she had a refit and was adapted to cruising, reducing onboard passenger capacity from 2,272 to 1,700 and more cruising-suitable amenities were added. She operated from Southampton with shorter cruises in the summer and a world cruise in the wintertime. In 1982 she was commission by the Royal Navy as a troop ship, transporting army personnel to the war zone of the Falklands islands (Cunard’s QE2 was also commissioned, but did not enter the war zone). After the conflict, ‘The Great White Whale’ as she had become known, returned home to a fantastic welcome in Southampton (cruises from Southampton). She again underwent a refit and continued her ever-popular Mediterranean cruises. She was taken out of service on September 30th 1997 due to rising operating costs. Other companies did bid for the vessel, but P&O decided that they did not want her operating under another flag and she was sold to shipbreakers in Pakistan. My favourite fact on Canberra is this: The scrappers had expected to cut the ship up in a matter of three months, but it would take them well over a full year. This was due to her solid construction…she didn’t give up without a fight!!
Now this leads me on to P&O’s new ships set for launch in 2020 and 2022 – there was a competition for the 2020 ship to be named by a member of the public (I remember the Boaty Mcboatface saga!!) and after speaking to a customer a few days ago she mentioned that there had been talk onboard of one of the new ships being named Canberra.
Well, I am all for it myself – what a testament that would be to the great ship and for me it would be fantastic to see the name carry on.
Okay so the ship will be worlds apart from the Canberra – the 2 new ships are being hailed as Britain’s biggest cruise ships at 180,000 tonnes. Canberra was around 49,000.
The New ships will be the next generation of cruise ships for P&O and that for me is a great reason to look at their heritage and bring forth a name from the past.