Cruise Passengers’ Christmas Day Ruined on New P&O Ship

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From huge lines for Christmas dinner to WiFi connection issues and IT problems, Arvia‘s maiden voyage is one that P&O Cruises will want to forget in a hurry. 

The newest Excel-class cruise ship, which was only handed over by the shipyard in mid-December, might be state-of-the-art, but P&O Cruises should have taken a bit more time to get systems operational. 

Arvia‘s Maiden Voyage Ruined for Some Guests

Sailing on a maiden voyage onboard a new cruise ship is always a hit-or-miss scenario. Sometimes cruise lines hit the nail on the head and get everything right, but sometimes things don’t exactly go as planned. 

Arvia‘s maiden voyage falls squarely into the second scenario. On December 16, Arvia was officially handed over by Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany, to UK-based P&O Cruises. The 180,000 gross tons cruise ship is the sister ship to Iona, also sailing for P&O, and ships such as Carnival Celebration, Mardi Gras, and Costa Toscana

P&O Arvia Cruise Ship
Photo Courtesy: P&O Cruises / James Robinson for Christopher Ison

As one of the last Excel-class cruise ships to be built for parent company Carnival Corporation, thousands of guests thought the vessel’s maiden voyage would be the ideal place to celebrate Christmas 2022. Arvia set sail from Southampton in the UK on December 23 with thousands of guests onboard.

However, according to reports from the BBC and The Times, the ship has been plagued by terrible internet connections, IT problems with virtual queuing and making reservations, and, to top it all off, hours of waiting to have dinner on Christmas Day. One passenger told the BBC the queue for dining stretched for three-quarters of the ship’s length on December 25. 

A spokesperson for P&O Cruises told The Times“We are so sorry for those guests affected by the IT and connectivity issues on Arvia’s current cruise, which caused dining issues and restaurant delays for a proportion of guests on Christmas Day. This service was certainly not up to our usual high standards, and we wholeheartedly apologize.”

Images shared on social media show hundreds of guests queuing in hallways to be able to have dinner. Although the vessel has 19 options for dining, the Christmas Day dinner in one of the four dining rooms was always going to be busy. World-famous chef Marco Pierre White has designed the menu, and British guests do enjoy a sit-down Christmas meal. 

Is the Cruise Line at Fault?

As we mentioned, sailing on a maiden voyage can always bring some problems. However, the issue is not with paying guests. P&O Cruises has decided to launch the vessel during a Christmas cruise. Any maiden voyage is one where the restaurant staff, chefs, and new systems are always going to be put to the test. 

Being a Christmas cruise where most guests can be expected to come to the main dining rooms, P&O Cruises should have been well prepared. WiFi should have been fully set up and tested well in advance of the maiden voyage but was not, according to some guests.

Luckily, Arvia‘s maiden voyage is not yet finished, so the cruise line has the chance to make it up to guests affected by the issues. The vessel will be in Arrecife in the Canary Islands on December 30. From there, the ship will sail to Cadiz in Spain and Lisbon, Portugal. The cruise will end on January 6 in Southampton, England. 

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