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…it is not advisable for us to maintain our planned Dubai and Arabian Gulf programme this winter season

As I’m pretty sure most people already know, P&O have cancelled this winter’s programme of cruises around the Arabian Gulf on Oceana. This is a result of the continuing tension over the seizure of ships in the Gulf and around the strait of Hormuz, and P&O have said the following: “The increased tension in the region highlighted by the attacks on tankers in the Straits in recent months and the detention of a British-flagged tanker by the Iranian authorities means as a British company flying the Red Ensign it is not advisable for us to maintain our planned Dubai and Arabian Gulf programme this winter season.

Passengers already booked on cruises on Oceana in the Arabian Gulf this winter will be given a full refund, and these are being processed now. A fresh programme of cruises on Oceana is being arranged at short notice, although details of them are limited at the moment; however, there has been a mention of a “pre-Christmas 35-night cruise to the Caribbean”. It also looks as if the revised programme will feature sailings from Southampton to the Iberian peninsula, and to the Canary Islands. There is also a mention of a 10% reduction in the price of a 2019/20 fly-cruises to the Caribbean (on Azura and Britannia) or an Arabian Gulf cruise on Oceana in winter 2020/2021 – at the moment, that programme is still planned to go ahead. (However, a booking on these cruises must be made by 31 September to attract the 10% saving.) It’s also suggested that Arcadia’s call at Dubai in March 2020, towards the end of her World cruise, will still take place.

P&O are not paying compensation for the cancellation – their view is that paragraphs 40 and 41 of their booking conditions removes their liability for compensation if the change to the package (in this case, the cancellation) is as a result of “force majeure” (paragraph 41).

I think we have to agree that P&O’s decision is the right one in the circumstances. I don’t really believe that the Iranian navy would in fact seize or attack a British-flagged cruise ship, but there is always a possibility, and at the present time P&O are certainly aware of the risks. We also don’t know the substance of the advice that P&O have received from the defence and security services. Of course, Sod’s Law demands that given that the cruises have now been cancelled, the tensions in the Gulf will evaporate and by mid-October, the date of the first planned cruise in the Gulf, the situation will be back to normal. P&O are probably in a no-win situation here, but cancelling the cruises is the safest choice.

Regular readers will know that I did a Gulf cruise on Oceana on my own earlier this year. Here’s a link to my summary page for that cruise, and that page contains further links into the detailed posts.

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