Sunken Vessel Causes P&O Cruises Itinerary Adjustment

A sunken cargo ship is causing a port of call change for Iona but a substitute port has been arranged. Will other ships be impacted?

A sunken cargo ship that is temporarily blocking part of the port of Hamburg has caused an itinerary change for P&O Cruises’ Iona on her next sailing.

While the ship will still be offering her Northern European City Escape itinerary, the German city the ship visits will now be Bremerhaven rather than Hamburg.

Itinerary Change for Iona

P&O Cruises’ Iona is scheduled to sail a 7-night Northern European City Escape cruise, departing from Southampton, UK on Saturday, February 10. On the itinerary are visits to Hamburg, Germany; Rotterdam, Netherlands; and Zeebrugge, Belgium before the ship returns to Southampton on February 17.

Guests booked on the cruise, however, have received notification of an itinerary update and Hamburg has now been removed from the itinerary, according to an email provided to Cruise Hive by reader Michael C.

“Due to port infrastructure, we have been made aware that our call to Hamburg on Monday, 12th February can no longer go ahead,” the email stated.

Fortunately, the cruise line was able to replace the port visit with a stop in Bremerhaven, Germany instead. The two port cities are just 60 miles (97 kilometers) apart, and both offer amazing cultural and historical experiences for visitors to enjoy.

“Located on Germany’s Northern coast, where the River Geest meets the Weser, Bremerhaven has shifted with the passage of time to become one of Germany’s most important harbour cities,” the email says of the new destination. “The medieval City of Bremen is easily reached from Bremerhaven and well worth a visit. The city is larger than Bremerhaven and steeped in history.”

Any shore excursions for Hamburg that have been booked through P&O Cruises will be automatically cancelled and refunded to guests. A variety of tours for Bremerhaven, including tours into Bremen (42 miles / 67 kilometers inland), will be available for booking onboard the ship from the shore excursions desk the starboard side of Deck 7, outside the Pearl Restaurant.

P&O Iona Search and Rescue
P&O Iona Search and Rescue (Photo Credit: alicantedsoler)

At this time, there are no other changes expected for Iona‘s itinerary, and both her departure and return to Southampton are not impacted by the port of call alteration.

The 184,089-gross-ton, Excel-class Iona is homeported year-round from Southampton, offering a diverse selection of itineraries including northern Europe, the Canary Islands, and the Norwegian fjords, depending on departure date. In January each year, the ship also offers an extensive 35-night Caribbean getaway, roundtrip from Southampton.

The ship can welcome 5,206 guests aboard for each sailing, and is also home to more than 1,700 international officers and crew members to ensure everyone aboard has an amazing cruise vacation.

Why the Cancellation?

While the email only references “port infrastructure” as the reason for the last-minute port cancellation, an inland waterway cargo ship carrying diesel fuel and potassium chloride sank in Hamburg on Tuesday, February 6. While there were no injuries reported in the incident, cleanup continues to ensure minimal environmental impact and the sunken vessel is blocking some port access.

P&O Iona Cruise Ship
P&O Iona Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: E.R. Images)

It is possible that the cargo ship may be blocking where Iona needs to dock, or any restrictions nearby could make it impossible for the large cruise ship to maneuver effectively for docking.

Most cruise ports have much more extensive operations than just welcoming tourists. Military operations, cargo trade, local and regional ferries, and commercial fishing are just a few other types of maritime operations that may be underway at any port a cruise ship visits.

Similar incidents do happen occasionally, such as when Carnival Panorama could not visit Mazatlán in mid-September, 2023 due to a sinking cargo vessel, or when PortMiami was closed for nearly 12 hours on June 25, 2023 after a boat collision between a personal craft and a ferry that caused channel closure.

Other ships that may be impacted by the situation in Hamburg could include AIDAnova on Saturday, February 10 and MSC Euribia on Sunday, February 11, with additional ships scheduled for the port later in February, depending on how long the cleanup may take.

Guests booked with visits to Hamburg in the coming weeks will want to stay in close contact with their individual cruise lines in case of any itinerary updates or changes.

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