P&O Cruises and Cunard are extending their pause in operations for the third time due to the continued impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Both P&O and Cunard were meant to resume sailings on 15 May, an extra month after the original resume date of 11 April was scheduled, but with the worsening situation across the globe, it is clear this date can no longer go ahead as planned.
The cruise lines have extended their pause in operations up to and including 31 July 2020, which means neither will begin sailing again until the beginning of August at least.
P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: “With the current lockdown in place and Government guidelines around the world advising against travel it is necessary to extend the pause in our operations for all sailings up to and including July 31, 2020.
“We are so sorry not to be able to give our guests amazing holidays at the moment, but we will do so as soon as global guidelines will allow.
Regrettably, P&O Cruises is extending its pause in operations up to and including 31 July 2020 as a result of the continued impact of COVID-19.
Here’s P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow with an update on the extension: pic.twitter.com/9W6fCDREvy
— P&O Cruises (@pandocruises) April 23, 2020
“Unfortunately, these dates also include the much-anticipated Ionafest and we are looking to re-schedule that as soon as possible.
“In the meantime, pending more clarity on the longer-term impact of covid-19 and timing on the world’s return to normality, we are considering the evolving advice as well as potential restrictions in ports of call as we look at how and when we phase our ships back into service.
“We are working hard to make sure that a holiday with P&O Cruises adheres to relevant measures and guidelines to protect everyone on board without compromising our guests’ enjoyment and experience.
“These new stringent measures will be in place as soon as we reintroduce our ships and we will all get used to them in the same way as we got used to airline hand luggage restrictions. They will become the new normal and they will give our guests and crew reassurance and peace of mind.”
All guests with a holiday booked up to and including 31 July this year will automatically receive a 125 per cent Future Cruise Credit (FCC). FCCs may be used for any sailing up to the end of March 2022 for any sailing (subject to availability) with bookings to be made before the end of December 2021.
Ludlow continued: “I am pleased to say that in order to give our guests maximum flexibility FCCs can now be used against a second cabin so guests may bring friends or family or else they can upgrade an existing booking.
In addition and following feedback, guests can also now gift or transfer the FCC by simply contacting either their travel agent or us, if they booked direct.
“We are seeing strong demand for 2021 and guests looking for a specific date, itinerary or ship should book early as there is limited availability.”
For ships Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria, Cunard is cancelling all sailings that were due to depart up to and including 31 July 2020.
For Queen Elizabeth, the cruise line has cancelled the entire Alaska season and all departures up to and including the 8 September 2020, as “maintaining a shorter summer season in Alaska would not make these voyages viable”.
President of Cunard, Simon Palethorpe, said: “These are extraordinary times and this global outbreak continues to challenge Cunard and the travel industry as a whole.
“We would love nothing more than to bring our fleet back into service, and give our guests the holidays they deserve and long for, but with the lockdowns and travel restrictions in place around the world, this is simply not possible at this time.”
He added: “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 when the time is right.”
Cunard will be communicating with all guests, and their travel advisors, who are booked on affected voyages.
Guests booked on cancelled voyages will automatically be given a 125 per cent Future Cruise Credit.
This may be used on any sailing before the end of March 2022. This covers all the departures currently on sale. Guests may now also use their Future Cruise Credit for a second cabin to bring friends or family or to upgrade an existing booking.