Updated: P&O Cruises and Cunard extend pause in operations

P&O Cruises and Cunard are extending a pause in operations for all sailings by a month until May 15 as a result of the continued impact of coronavirus.

Sister Carnival Corporation cruise lines – Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line and Seabourn – have also announced further delays.

P&O Cruises and Cunard are extending the pause in operations for all sailings by a month until May 15.

The delivery of P&O Cruises’ new 5,200-passenger ship Iona, originally due to enter service in May,  has also been delayed due to a “temporary slowdown” of work at the German shipyard where it is nearing completion.

The sister lines pledged to continue monitoring government guidelines and travel restrictions in ports of call around the world.

Both lines said this may mean further changes to the timing of when each of their ships return to service.

Passengers with cruises booked up to and including May 15 will receive a future cruise credit of 125% which will be fully commissionable.

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow issued a video statement on Monday updating agents and customers about the changes.

“It is clear that our original date of April 11 to resume sailings, which would have been a 30-day pause in operations, is just not feasible in light of the government announcements last week,” he said.

“Regrettably, therefore, we are now extending this pause until May 15. Given the current guidelines it is prudent and practical to extend the pause until normal operations can be resumed.

“As we work through the evolving restriction on ports around the world future itineraries may be subject to change and so we are looking at how we phase our ships back into service.”

He added: “Our travel partners and agents have been, are, and will remain critical to the future success of P&O Cruises. We thank them all for the continued support and understanding.

“Their work and effort on behalf of our mutual guests in recent weeks has been outstanding. We share their dismay that high street branches are closed during this usually buoyant and popular time.

“In addition, the restrictions have forced the temporary slow down of work by Meyer Werft in Germany, where the final outfitting on new ship Iona is being completed. We are working with the team at the shipyard to look at the impact upon her delivery.

“We are so sorry for the disappointment that this will cause to everyone who was excited about her arrival and particularly those agents who have booked guests on Iona’s maiden voyage and also those agents who were due to join us for the Shine event during the inaugural period.

“As soon as we have more clarity on the re-scheduled delivery date we will let everyone know and we are keeping our agent partners regularly updated via emails and on the Shine Rewards Club website.”

Ludlow said: “Thank you too to all our guests who have taken advantage of the future cruise credits and re-booked with us – we really appreciate the loyalty they have shown and we cannot wait to welcome them back on board.”

Cunard president Simon Palethorpe said: “The impact of Covid-19 is affecting personal routines and businesses as well as placing significant travel restrictions around the world.

“Everyone in the Cunard team is aware of the need to support the management and containment of Covid-19 globally. This includes protecting the health and safety of our guests and crew. It is therefore right we extend the pause in operations.”

He added: “It is too soon to know exactly how this situation will evolve.

“But I do know that we, the Cunard team, will commit all our resources, energy and talent to weather this storm and come out stronger than ever for our guests.

“We have been sailing for 180 years and we look forward to many more. We will get through these tough times together and look forward to welcoming our guests back on board again soon, when the time is right.”

Carnival Cruise Line announced on its social media channels that the pause for all North America sailings will extend until May 11.

Holland America Line is now cancelling sailings scheduled to depart through to May 14.

Customers can opt for a credit worth 125% of their booking value plus an additional $250 shipboard credit or a full refund.

Seabourn will extend the pause for its five cruise ships for an additional 30 days, until May 14.

The luxury cruise line had announced an initial 30-day pause in global operations, which took effect on March 14.

Affected customers will receive a 125% refund in the form of a cruise credit. Those who do not choose the credit option can obtain a 100% refund.

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