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P&O cruises: Anger after Iona holidays axed for refit

by Staff
  • By Charlotte Andrews
  • BBC News

Image source, Press Association

Image caption,

P&O has cancelled two of its cruises on Iona so it can be refurbished

Families whose holidays were cancelled after plans to refurbish a cruise ship were rescheduled said they had been left “angry and upset”.

Two cruises departing from Southampton on P&O’s Iona in October 2025 were axed to make time for the refit.

The company offered full refunds and on-board spending credit to encourage people to re-book.

But customers said like-for-like holidays on different dates were hundreds of pounds more expensive.

A 14-night trip to the Canary Islands on 4 October and a seven-night cruise around Northern Europe on 18 October were cancelled for the work.

Refits on P&O ships happen every few years and have previously included cosmetic updates like new balcony furniture, according to parent company Carnival.

Image source, Laura Prince

Image caption,

Loyal cruise customer Laura Prince (right) says re-booking a similar holiday would cost her an extra £500

Laura Prince, from Southampton, was booked to go on the two-week cruise to the Canary Islands with her three children, her husband and his parents.

She received an email from P&O on Tuesday, cancelling the holiday due to a “necessary reschedule of Iona’s planned refit”.

By way of apology, the letter offered £100 on-board spending money to the first two guests in her cabin, should she book a new cruise by June 2024.

P&O has not said why the refit had been rescheduled.

But after looking at holidays for the same grade of cabin on Iona, two weeks before and after the cancelled dates, Ms Prince said the prices were about £500 higher.

“They are only offering £100 [on-board credit] for the first two guests and if we did rebook it is also a higher deposit so we would also have to pay an extra £200 plus on the deposit,” she said.

She added it had made her angry and upset, and she thought P&O should have offered the family a transfer to another cruise.

Image source, Press Association

Image caption,

Iona was completed in October 2020 but its maiden voyage was delayed until August 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic

Carl Hillier, from Bishop’s Itchington, Warwickshire, had booked two cabins on the same cruise with his mother, his wife and their four children.

“I have tried to find another cruise with them, visiting the same places – I cannot find one,” he said.

“The closest cruise I can find would cost me an additional £1,600.”

But another customer, Sam Aughton, from Weymouth, Dorset, felt P&O had given customers plenty of notice.

“We can’t ask for much more than that really,” she added.

A P&O Cruises spokesperson apologised for the cancellations, telling the BBC: “All guests have been provided with a full refund and on-board credit to use for a future cruise.

“We do hope they will be able to find a suitable alternative holiday and we would be delighted to help with this if they contact us or their travel agent.”

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