P&O Cruises cancels sailings until October

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P&O Iona

Covid-19 has forced P&O Cruises to further extend the cancellation of sailings until mid-October.

The fourth extension of the suspension of cruises until October 15 follows all departures being cancelled in April until July 31.

The latest move comes as the UK line focuses on working in close coordination with all relevant public health bodies to approve further enhancement of the company’s already stringent health and safety protocols.

Departures by P&O Cruises and sister brand were first suspended in mid-March and then again on March 30 as Covid-19 hit the global cruise industry.

Parent company Carnival UK has since announced a series of redundancies.

Passengers booked on the cancelled sailings will receive a future cruise credit, giving an additional 25% on top of the amount paid for the holiday.

P&O Cruises also confirmed that the future cruise credit, which may be held until the end of 2021, maybe put against any holiday on sale at that time.

The credits may 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.

A 5% deposit is also being introduced for new bookings made by June 29 for 2021 sailings.

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: “We want to apologise once again to those guests who wait for refunds, particularly at a time of financial constraints, however the new technology we have in place is rapidly improving things though and we continue to make further progress on a daily basis.”

Referring to the latest pause in operations, he 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 too so many of our guests.”

He added: “We have for years had in place many of the protocols now considered advisable for other social gathering venues, such as hand-sanitizing 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 onboard 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.

“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 the 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 onboard and onshore.

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

Redesigned Buffets Will Need to Convey Sense of Safety

Oceanview Cafe on Celebrity Cruises

The cruise ship buffet may never look the same again, according to an industry supplier.

“It will not just be about serving food in a safe way; it will also be about conveying a sensation of safety to the customers,” said Erik Schobesberger, vice president sales modernization at ALMACO, a key supplier of interior, galley and buffet design and installation to the cruise industry.

The company said that buffets will either change drastically or cease to exist, and cruise ship operators will need to figure out easy and cost-efficient temporary solutions in order to be ready for sailing in August.

“The temporary solutions, however, will most likely not be 100 per cent efficient and visually acceptable as long-term solutions,” said Schobesberger.

“The new concept must be ‘wow,” while meeting the new standards and regulations,” he added.

Schobesberger said he expects some cruise lines will choose to keep the buffet concept but implement design improvements and equipment innovations that make it safe.

“Others will transform their restaurants into a la carte with open kitchens or cooking shows. Whatever the choice maybe, we can assure you that ALMACO is here to help our customers on every step of the way, from quick-fix solutions to get the restaurants up and running to redesign and revitalization of new innovative future- and germ-proof restaurant concepts,” he added.

Port Everglades Expansion On Track

Port Everglades

Port Everglades is advancing $1.6 billion in infrastructure improvements that are underway and expected to be completed in the next five years, according to a press release.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is certainly impacting this year’s bottom line, but we are fortunate that Port Everglades’ diversified business sectors of cargo, cruise and petroleum can address a dip in one business sector and be balanced out with stability in other revenue-generating business sectors. As a result, Port Everglades has a history of financial success and has budgeted for several sizeable construction projects that are moving forward at a rapid pace with little disruption from the virus,” said Port Everglades’ Glenn Wiltshire, Acting Chief Executive & Port Director.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the preconstruction engineering and design phase of deepening the Port’s navigation channels from 42 feet to 48-50 feet and widening narrower sections of the channel for safe vessel passage.

In February 2020, this project received $29.1 million in funding under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers FY 2020 Work Plan. The funding will be used to build a new facility at U.S. Coast Guard Station Fort Lauderdale so the Intracoastal Waterway can be widened by 250 feet. Currently, this chokepoint in the channel puts operating restriction on large Neo-Panamax cargo ships, which affects their ability to transit past docked cruise ships. The Coast Guard Station reconfiguration is the first phase of the larger dredging project.

Port Everglades is also building a new parking garage to serve Cruise Terminals 2 and 4. The new 1,818-space garage is currently under construction, with a Fall 2020 completion date. It will feature an air-conditioned bridge with moving walkways to deliver guests to Terminal 2, Princess Cruises’ prototype Ocean Medallion terminal. The Northport Garage, where passengers now park, will be dedicated to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Broward County Convention Center.