P&O Cruises has assessed the damage to Britannia following the cruise ship’s collision with a tanker on Palma de Mallorca on Sunday, August 27, 2023.
Because of lifeboat and other equipment damage, some guests will be disembarked and sent home rather than sailing on with the vessel. The cruise line is making travel arrangements for impacted passengers at this time.
Safety Equipment Damaged on Britannia
During a sudden, severe storm on Palma de Mallorca on Sunday, P&O Cruises ship Britannia brook free of her mooring lines and drifted into a nearby tanker.
Both ships suffered minor damage in the incident. While Britannia‘s overall structure has not been compromised, the fact that some lifesaving equipment – including at least one of the ship’s emergency lifeboats – was damaged means that not all guests onboard will be continuing their cruise.
In a letter delivered to guests on Monday morning, the ship’s Guest Support team outlined the issue. “Third-party surveyors have confirmed that one of Britannia’s lifeboats and some other lifesaving equipment has sustained structural issues and cannot be repaired onboard,” the letter said.
Maritime law requires specific lifeboat capacities to be maintained on all vessels, based on the overall guest and crew capacity of the ship.
The 143,730-gross ton Britannia – the third largest vessel in the P&O Cruises fleet – has a guest capacity of 3,647 travelers, with a crew of approximately 1,400 international team members.
Who Will Leave the Ship?
The letter goes on to explain that some guests “might be kindly asked to disembark” the ship, and that a “dedicated flight” would be arranged to make travelers’ return to the UK as “hassle-free as possible.” Details of the travel arrangements are still being confirmed.
It is not clear which guests may be asked to debark Britannia to reduce the ship’s capacity in order to sail in accordance with maritime regulations. The cruise line may ask for volunteers in order to first accommodate guests who may not feel comfortable remaining onboard under the circumstances.
Other options might be that guests near the damaged areas could be asked to debark, because repair operations such as noise, corridor closures, electrical outages, etc. could impact their cruise experience. Guests in the impacted muster groups assigned to the now-damaged lifeboat or other lifesaving equipment could also be asked to debark.
A typical lifeboat can accommodate 150 individuals. At this time, P&O Cruises has not confirmed how many guests must disembark the vessel to ensure adequate safety equipment available for Britannia to sail.
It is unknown at this time whether or not the ship’s next sailing, a 14-night Northern Europe and Scandinavia itinerary roundtrip from Southampton, will be able to sail with all booked passengers.
If the lifeboat and other safety equipment cannot be repaired or replaced prior to the September 1 sail date, some guests may have their cruises cancelled to accommodate the reduction in safety capacity.
Similar Partial Cruise Cancellations
Cruise lines have been faced with similar circumstances – shortening a cruise and returning guests home in other ways – for a variety of reasons.
In March 2022, for example, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Escape ran aground in Puerto Plata, causing damage that ended the sailing and cancelled further cruises until the ship could be repaired. Guests had to be flown home as the ship could not set sail.
In May 2022, Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Freedom had a smokestack fire that damaged the ship’s iconic whale tail, causing the cruise to be ended and additional cruises cancelled. In that incident, a sister ship helped transport guests back to Florida.
In January 2023, Marella Cruises’ Marella Discovery 2 experienced technical problems that impacted food and beverage services, causing guests to be flown home after both the current and next voyages were cancelled.