P&O Cruises Clarifies New Drink Policy Restrictions

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Following the recent changes to the onboard alcoholic beverage policy, P&O Cruises has released a new list of frequently asked questions with their code of conduct to address guests’ most common concerns. This should help alleviate confusion about the policy change, including when these changes officially take effect and what recourse travelers have if they no longer wish to set sail.

British cruise line P&O Cruises recently announced sweeping changes to its alcohol policy, impacting what alcohol guests could bring onboard and when, as well as changes to drink package pricing and corkage fees.

Open Deck Bar on P&O Cruises Ship
Open Deck Bar on P&O Cruises Ship (Photo Credit: jax10289)

In accordance with legal age limits, only guests age 18 years and older for European homeports (age 21 and older for US homeports) may bring alcohol of any type onboard.

Most significantly, travelers can no longer bring “spirits” onboard, but are limited to no more than 1 liter of wine or champagne that may be brought aboard on embarkation day. Spirits are defined as liquor or hard liquor, such as whiskey, brandy, vodka, gin, liqueurs, and similar beverages.

If guests bring more than one liter of wine or champagne aboard at embarkation day, the excess amount will be confiscated and will be returned when travelers disembark at the conclusion of their cruise.

Similarly, any alcoholic beverages purchased in ports of call cannot be consumed onboard. Guests must declare those purchases when returning to the ship, and the alcohol will be safely stored and returned to travelers at the end of the cruise. There will be no charge for this storage. Wine and champagne will still be stored even if guests did not bring any aboard at embarkation.

Read Also: What If You Get Caught Sneaking Alcohol on a Cruise?

When questioned about the decision to change the policy – which previously permitted spirits to be brought onboard – the cruise line declared its intention to better clarify the policies in a responsible and consistent way.

“We’ve reviewed our alcohol policy and decided to align with the cruise industry to adhere to HESS guidelines around our responsibility to serve alcohol,” the FAQ states.

The HESS guidelines are Carnival Corporation & plc’s Health, Environmental, Safety, and Security Policy, including adhering to all legal requirements related to health and safety. Alcohol policies fall under this umbrella, as excessive alcoholic consumption can be an unhealthy practice that could lead to unsafe situations.

P&O Iona Cruise Ship
P&O Iona Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Peter Titmuss)

P&O Cruises is one of several cruise lines owned by Carnival Corporation, and this change in policy better keeps each of the corporation’s cruise lines offering similar policies. These policies are regularly reviewed not only for compliance, but also to ensure they best meet the needs of cruise guests, crew members, and staff.

These new policies go into effect from May 7, 2024, as each of the seven ships in the P&O Cruises fleet sets sail at its next departure. To be clear, policies are not changing in mid-cruise for ships already underway, but will be implemented at the next possible embarkation.

What If Guests Do Not Want to Set Sail?

If travelers prefer not to set sail on their P&O Cruises vacation due to this new policy, all standard terms and conditions of cancellations apply.

While P&O Cruises does offer a “fee-free flexible transfer policy” that permits guests to shift their travel plans without change fees (subject to terms and conditions), cancelling does incur fees depending on the type of fare booked and when the cruise may be cancelled.

For P&O Cruises Select Price and Early Saver fares, guests only forfeit the deposit until 91 days before departure if they choose to cancel. Closer to sailing, fees of 50-90% of the cruise price may be lost, depending on when a cruise is cancelled. Less than six days before departure, or if guests simply do not show up to embarkation, there is no refund available.

Travelers who book the cruise line’s saver fares have no refund options from the time of booking until departure; if they cancel, the entire fare is forfeit.

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