P&O Cruises cancels seven sailings due to crew member availability
In an email sent to booked guests, P&O Cruises announced the cancellation of seven sailings from Arcadia, to reassign crew members to other vessels due to COVID-19 cases affecting crew availability. Although the ship only restarted passenger operations 12 days ago, all sailings until July 5 have been cancelled.
7 cruises canceled
The Vista class Arcadia only returned to service on March 27, 2022, with a 16-day round trip from Southampton in the Canary Islands. The cruise also visited ports in Spain and Portugal and will conclude the ongoing return to Southampton on Tuesday April 12.
Current sailing is unaffected by the cancellations, but future voyages via the scheduled June 23 departure will no longer take place.
Canceled cruises range from 3 to 19 days, with “Short Break” cruises as well as Baltic, Norwegian Fjord and Mediterranean cruises.
COVID cases affecting crew availability
The cancellation is due to the increased number of COVIDs which is impacting crew members available to work, and therefore making it difficult for the cruise line to provide its exemplary service.
P&O Cruises responded “The current and extraordinary impact of COVID-19 in the UK, across the hospitality, services and airline industry, has resulted in a temporary disruption of crew members available to join our ships.”
Even if crew members do not immediately test positive for the disease, periods of quarantine and isolation make it difficult to adequately staff ships.
Staffing issues can also result from crew members not being able to travel to their various ships to begin contracts, and re-directing crew members from one ship can help fill staffing gaps on other ships.
“As a result, P&O Cruises will be redeploying Arcadia’s crew to other ships in the fleet. This is being done in order to maintain the company’s high service standards of which we are very proud, on the other five ships in the fleet”, the comment continued.
Arcadia can accommodate 1,952 guests when booked in double occupancy and up to 2,388 passengers when fully booked. The ship carries 976 crew members when fully manned, but it is unclear at this time whether all crew members are on board.
Customers who have booked on the now canceled cruises report that P&O Cruises is offering a full refund for the affected sailing, including all prepaid shore visits.
The cruise line also offers future cruise savings and Future Cruise Credit (FCC) for onboard expenses. The percentage discount on a future cruise and the amount of the FCC vary depending on the cruise canceled by the passenger as well as the fare paid.
All refunds will automatically be processed to the customers original method of payment.
Many customers are understandably disappointed with the short notice, especially for the next one or two cruises, as there may not be time to rebook similar voyages on different ships, as demand travel has increased significantly for spring and summer cruises.
Return of the last P&O cruise ship
Arcadia was the latest P&O Cruises ship to return to service after ceasing passenger operations in March 2020. There was great fanfare as the ship restarted, including a special message from Paul Ludlow, President of P&O Cruises. This message said, in part:
“Our aim is, always, to protect your health and well-being and to maintain the highest standards on board so you can simply relax and enjoy your holiday.”
With the lack of crew, it can be difficult to adequately maintain these high standards. All P&O Cruises crew members are fully immunized and passengers must also be fully immunized, but breakthrough cases and exposures can create staffing challenges.
P&O Cruises will continue to sail with the remaining five ships in the fleet, and Arcadia must return to service with a departure on July 5. This voyage is expected to be a 14-day round trip Iceland itinerary departing from Southampton, also calling at ports in Norway and Ireland.
In December, the P&O Cruises fleet will grow further with the planned launch of the 184,700 gross tons Arviathe the largest ship ever built for the cruise line. Arvia is currently under construction at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany.