P&O Cruises has extended its pause in operations for the fourth time until 15 October 2020.

The cruise line was meant to resume sailings on 1 August, more than three months after the original resume date of 11 April was scheduled, but this has once again been extended until October.

P&O Cruises has said that the latest extension is so that it can focus on working closely with relevant public health bodies to approve further enhancement of its existing health and safety protocols.

In the cruise line’s latest video update, P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said:

“As a business our operational focus is not ‘when can we resume sailing?’ but is instead ‘how can we develop a comprehensive restart protocol that will keep everyone on board, our crew and guests, safe and well and still give our guests an amazing holiday?’

“We are working with government and industry bodies at the highest possible level, such as Public Health England (PHE) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to review every aspect of a holiday with us and establish a framework of policies and procedures. Our aspiration is to be adopting best practice in managing Covid-19 within the travel industry.

“Unfortunately, as the world continues to adapt to this global crisis, we have made the decision, difficult as it is, to extend our pause in operations for all sailings up to and including October 15, 2020. We are so sorry for the disappointment this will cause to so many of our guests.”

All impacted guests will receive an enhanced future cruise credit, which gives an additional 25 per cent on top of the amount paid for the holiday.

Following customer feedback, P&O Cruises has also confirmed that the future cruise credit, which may be held until the end of 2021, can be used against any holiday on sale at that time, giving guests maximum flexibility and choice.

It can also be used to upgrade or for a second cabin for any existing booking and also may be gifted or transferred to someone else. This option will also be available until the end of December 2021.

The cruise line introducing a five per cent deposit for new bookings made between 27 May and 29 June 2020. The offer is available on applicable Early Saver and Select Price holidays of 19 nights or fewer from January 2021.

Expanding on the likely health and safety protocols that will be implemented once sailings resume, Ludlow said:

“We have for years had in place many of the protocols now considered advisable for other social gathering venues, such as hand-sanitising stations and rigorous cleaning and disinfecting procedures.

“We also have for years gone beyond those protocols by having guests complete a health declaration form and having a comprehensive medical facility on board each ship providing 24/7 medical care and treatment.

“During the recent crisis, we added robust health screening upon embarkation, starting with thermal scanning of guests and crew.”

Ludlow added: “Along with the rest of the world, we will adapt.

“We will work closely with medical experts and global authorities to help us determine the best way to move forward while honouring our highest responsibility – the health, safety, and wellbeing of our guests, crew and communities we visit, along with compliance and environmental protection.

“We have always taken such pride in our standards of cleanliness and hygiene before Covid-19, but when we return there will be enhanced protocols approved by hospitality and national public health authorities.

“This will ensure we continue to have in place high levels of cleanliness across every single aspect of public areas, crew living areas and every item of furniture in cabins and everywhere on board as well as approved safety standards for the service of food and drink; entertainment and experiences on board and on shore.

“When the time is right, we will be ready to resume our tradition of providing amazing holiday experiences for our guests.”

Visit pocruises.com for more information.