Cruise Lines and Ship Reviews

Initial demand for P&O Cruises UK sailings is strong

If you haven’t heard the news, a number of the world’s leading cruise lines are launching a series of short cruises for British passengers around the UK this summer. One of the latest to go on sale, were P&O Cruises. Bookings opened on March 22 and within hours the cruise line released a statement via social media stating: ‘an unprecedented demand has caused technical issues with our systems on the website and through our contact centre.’

There has been a lot of excitement amongst passengers new and old in online forums, with people booking through travel agents as well as independently. There has been mixed feedback regarding the price of these cruises and the fact that guests need to have the COVID-19 vaccine before embarkation, but this hasn’t deterred many from booking. It’s really encouraging to see how eager people are to step foot on board cruise ships again, and I really hope this is a major turning point for an industry that means so much to so many (including myself).

Britannia. Image: P&O Cruises
Britannia. Image: P&O Cruises

On March 17, P&O Cruises announced Iona and Britannia would be embarking on a series of cruises around the UK, in replacement of previous itineraries which have been cancelled due to COVID-19. The Ultimate Escape UK holidays are a series of short breaks on flagship Britannia and week-long cruises on new ship Iona. These cruises will depart from Southampton between June and September, sailing around the UK coast, “where the sun shines brightest.”   

Britannia will offer three and four night breaks and one six night holiday running from June 27, 2021 through to September 19, 2021. Iona offers seven night itineraries running from August 7, 2021 to September 18, 2021. Prices start from £449 per person for a three night break on Britannia. Iona’s seven night maiden voyage starts from £1,199 per person. 

Given the advanced progress of the UK vaccination programme, and strong expressed preference on the part of P&O Cruises guests for this limited series of UK coastal cruises, these sailings on Britannia and Iona will be for UK resident Covid-19 vaccinated guests only. 

Iona grand atrium. Image: P&O Cruises

All guests and crew will be required to follow enhanced health and wellbeing measures to protect everyone on board on these cruises. These have been developed with guidance from global medical and public health experts and scientists and in close coordination with UK government agencies. These protocols include enhanced sanitation measures, appropriate social distancing and the wearing of masks in certain areas of the ship. Crew will also undergo a strict testing and quarantine regime as well as regular testing during their time on board. These protocols are subject to change, as the cruise line continues to work with experts and with government bodies to ensure all practices evolve in line with latest advice, with the primary focus always being to protect the health and wellbeing of crew and guests and the communities visited.  Travel insurance will also be mandatory for all guests.

Food on board Iona. Image: P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: “Given recent announcements we have every hope that our guests will be able to enjoy a holiday this summer. After the stresses and challenges of the past year everyone certainly deserves a treat and this series of cruises will provide memorable and much needed UK getaways. Whilst there is still uncertainty about holidays abroad this summer, we are delighted to be able to offer our guests the ultimate escape here in the UK with the reassurance that we will take care of everything.”

More information can be found on the P&O Cruises website.

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