British cruise operator P&O Cruises announced it would be cancelling all voyages onboard all of its ships until August and September. However, all is not lost as P&O Cruises is preparing to offer “the ultimate escape” staycation this summer.
The announcement from P&O Cruises, which is part of Carnival Corporation, comes after the UK government has said it will be gradually releasing the lockdown, while the rollout of the vaccine has been a massive success in many parts of the UK so far.
Although international travel is not possible just yet, the cruise line sees opportunities for short cruises leaving from the UK, with UK ports.
The company hopes to offer guests an opportunity to cruise around the British Isles this summer, together with other UK guests. The voyages will be sailing from Southampton according to P&O President Paul Ludlow:
“These sailings will leave from our home port in Southampton and sail around UK coastal waters enjoying the summer sunshine. More details of dates, prices and the experience on board will be announced later this month, but they will, of course, all have flexibility so guests can book with confidence.”
The cruise lines plans align with the UK COVID-19 Framework for cruise operators developed in October last year, which will now finally come into effect. The cruise line hopes that the staycation will have a lot of appeal to guests who have, for the most part, not had a vacation in quite some time:
“We hope that the UK “ultimate escape” staycation option will have wide appeal and we will do our utmost to make it a very special time. There really will be something for everyone and the opportunity to spend precious and much-longed-for time with family and friends.”
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The Time Is Right
In a statement released by the company on March 3, the cruise line explains why it feels necessary to cancel international cruises. According to President Paul Ludlow, the current climate is more suited for national than international cruises:
“Whilst holidays here in the UK will be the first to become a reality we will, of course, gradually see the return of international travel but first we want guests to be able to enjoy a proper summer holiday at sea with the best in relaxation, entertainment and dining choice.”
The UK government has been sending hopeful signals lately, and it looks like the country will be able to get away from severe and strict lockdowns and quarantines slowly. With a successful vaccine program well underway, the timing for these voyages is just right. P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said:
“Following recent Government announcements and as the vaccine programme is rolled out across the globe we can all begin to feel a sense of reassurance and hope that this current lockdown period in the UK will come to an end. Life can, we hope, slowly return to some semblance of our previous normality as hospitality opens up and summer holidays can be booked with confidence.”
To accommodate these short summer breaks, the cruise line has decided to cancel all voyages until August and September on all six of its vessels.
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Whether all six ships will be sailing on the staycations will be revealed by the company later. It would stand to reason the company will await whether the UK cruise public will warm to the idea of sailing this summer.
The following cruises have been affected by the P&O UK’s announcement today:
- Arcadia: Voyages between May 20, 2021, and August 27, 2021.
- Aurora: Voyages between April 24, 2021, and August 17, 2021
- Azura: Voyages between April 29, 2021, and August 26, 2021
- Britannia: Voyages between April 25, 2021, and September 11, 2021
- Iona: Voyages between April 24, 2021, and September 18, 2021
- Ventura: Voyages between April 30, 2021, and August 22, 2021
Although these voyages have been canceled, it does not mean that international cruises are off the table entirely. Instead, the cruise line thinks it will be able to resume these voyages if travel restrictions are lifted sufficiently:
“We remain in very close contact with the UK Government and associated bodies as we monitor the latest situation and guidance on travel. From the moment we see travel restrictions lifting, we will begin the significant logistical task to restart our operations. It will take some time for the first ship to return to service, followed by the phased return of the remaining fleet. We cannot wait to welcome everyone back on board with the protection of effective protocols to safeguard the health and wellbeing of all crew and guests.”
All guests whose cruises have been canceled will automatically receive a Future Cruise Credit worth 125% of what they paid. This 125% Future Cruise Credit can be redeemed against any new booking made by the end of December 2021 on any cruise on sale at the time of booking.
Alternatively, 100% refund is available an online form and may be requested until December 2021.
It is undoubtedly another positive in what has been a positive week for the cruise industry. With cruises resuming in more and more places, we can finally say the road to the new normal has finally been taken.
Photo Credit: Edwin Muller Photography / Shutterstock.com