My dream cruise to celebrate my 60th birthday has turned into a war zone: why can’t I get a refund?

Kevin Turnock and his wife will join a P&O cruise ship in Sydney next month that is currently scheduled to return to the UK via the Red Sea.

P&O Cruises customer Kevin Turnock wrote to the Telegraph on January 11, 2024.

“Although the dangerous situation in the Red Sea is reported daily, many travel companies do not provide updates to their customers and some do not even respond to customer queries. This is clearly not acceptable, especially when families are spending huge sums of money on these companies and are obviously worried and worried about the situation.

“Our situation is this: P&O is doing a world cruise on the ship, Arcadia. The ship left the UK this week on the first leg of her cruise to the United States and the Caribbean. My wife and I are due to meet the cruise ship in Sydney and depart for the UK on February 22, 2024. Arcadia It is scheduled to transit the Red Sea and the Suez Canal on its return to the UK.

“Unfortunately, there currently appear to be almost daily missile and drone attacks on shipping in the Red Sea area and I cannot imagine P&O sending a large white ship in Union Jack livery through the area any time soon.

“I have been trying to contact P&O since November to get an update and determine if my cruise will be canceled (as many cruise lines have already announced for itineraries involving the Red Sea), diverted via Africa (as at least one cruise line and several commercial shipping companies have already done this), or discontinue and passengers return home from, say, Singapore or Sri Lanka.

“However, to date, I have typically not received a response or, in one case, a message saying, ‘We are constantly reviewing the situation, any modifications that need to be made to any of our itineraries will be communicated to our guests.” .’

“In our case, the cruise is booked to celebrate our 60th birthday, so we would need enough time to make alternative arrangements in case the cruise is cancelled. We are sensitive to the possibility since we had a previous trip canceled just 48 hours before the departure date.

“I don’t understand why the company is so reluctant to provide a meaningful update or engage in conversation. I understand that there may not be a final decision available, but the options being considered should be available now and perhaps the right to request a penalty-free refund should be available.”

A P&O Cruises spokesperson said:

“We are monitoring the situation daily and will notify guests if any itinerary changes are necessary.

“The safety and well-being of guests and crew is our absolute priority. If we decide to change the itinerary based on our own assessment of the situation or on advice given by authorities such as the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), for example, we will inform guests of the revised itinerary and any further impact on the cruise, as appropriate.”

Greg Dickinson, senior travel writer, advises:

The situation in the Red Sea is constantly changing and very volatile. Last week, the United Kingdom and the United States launched airstrikes against Houthi military bases in Yemen. It is understandable, therefore, that P&O Cruises is taking a cautious approach and following the FCDO’s advice in this regard. As it is, the Arcadia It is scheduled to cross the Red Sea and Suez Canal in early April.

It’s understandable that you and your wife are frustrated and eager for answers, especially considering the holiday is for a big double birthday celebration. At this stage, however, your options are limited.

Because you must join the cruise in less than 90 days, you cannot transfer your itinerary to an alternative cruise. If you choose to cancel unilaterally, you will only receive a partial refund.

Since you’re due to join the cruise on February 22 (just over a month from now), you’d have to pay a 75 percent cancellation fee (P&O Cruises staggers its cancellation fees based on proximity to your departure date). This would equate to a loss of many thousands of pounds.

This US Navy photo taken April 29, 2015 shows the USS Laboon.This US Navy photo taken April 29, 2015 shows the USS Laboon.

“The situation in the Red Sea is constantly changing and very volatile,” says our expert – AFP

P&O Cruises reserves the absolute right to modify its schedule after departure. Since the Arcadia has already sailed from Southampton (on 6th January) and is currently en route to the Caribbean, clause 43 of the Terms and Conditions is crucial for you and your wife.

“After departure, P&O Cruises does not guarantee that the ship will call at every port on the itinerary or follow every part of the advertised route or schedule or that every part of the Package will be provided. P&O Cruises reserves the absolute right to decide whether or not to skip any such ports and/or call at additional ports and/or change the advertised route, schedule or package.”

P&O Cruises adds that if it is unable to provide a significant proportion of the package (by avoiding the Suez Canal and detouring around Africa, for example): it will “make suitable alternative arrangements, at no additional cost to the guest, for the continuation of the Package.”

If it is the case that you and your wife do not agree to the diversion plans “for good reasons”, P&O Cruises “where applicable, will provide the Guest with transportation back to the place of departure or to another location to which P&O Cruises and the Guests “They agreed.”

Because the situation in the Red Sea is unavoidable and exceptional, outside the control of P&O Cruises, it is unlikely that you will be entitled to additional compensation.

The best thing you can do, for now, is to stay in close contact with P&O Cruises and also keep a close eye on what other cruise companies are doing. Fred Olsen Cruises says it still plans to sail through the Suez Canal in April: “Closer to the time, if there is any heightened risk, we will of course implement a contingency plan,” he said. Meanwhile, Viking Cruises has canceled its world cruise’s scheduled overnight stop to Haifa, Israel, but for now, the previous Suez transit in April remains in place.

Needless to say, if you address the Arcadia On February 22, you and your wife should make sure you have comprehensive insurance coverage.

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