The president of P&O Cruises has stressed the line is striving to refund customers “as swiftly as possible” as it deals with the fallout of the coronavirus crisis.
In a statement posted on P&O’s Facebook page, Paul Ludlow said he was “very aware of the financial constraints everyone is under at the moment” and stressed “we are not delaying [refunding] intentionally”.
Ludlow said he understood “that some of you see us as a big business ‘holding on to your money’ as some of our guests have been commenting publicly” but argued that was not the case, describing how P&O had been adapting its technology systems to process refunds at a quicker rate.
“The first thing for me to stress is that the refund process is underway. We are proud to be a travel company which is able to offer refunds but the impact of Covid-19 upon our business, your businesses, and all of our lives has been devastating, and therefore the complexity and scale of this task has been unprecedented for us,” he said.
He explained how P&O’s first cruises were cancelled due to Covid-19 in the middle of March and although the line expected to process the first refunds sooner “we revised that to ‘up to 60 days’ when we realised the impact the pandemic was having on our wider business and teams”.
“I know that ’up to 60 days’ is not ideal and it is certainly not the service you would normally expect from us but sadly ‘normal’ has taken on a new meaning. In the past few weeks, despite the challenges, we have been able to put new technology and systems and also additional resource in place which will result in more refunds being processed more quickly and I hope this will improve the situation daily. We will also be contacting all of you who have requested a refund.”
P&O will also be updating its systems to allow future cruise credits to be redeemed online without the need to call, with more details on coming at the end of the month.
Customers now have until the end of December 2021 to redeem their credit, which may be used to upgrade, for a second cabin for any booking in 2021 or 2022 and may also be gifted or transferred to someone else.
“I never underestimate the feeling and affection that many of you have for our ships and for our business as a whole. It is a huge privilege to have so many very loyal guests who holiday with us time and time again,” Ludlow added.
“Thank you so much for your understanding and forbearance as we work our way through these difficult circumstances, it really is very much appreciated.
“I’d also like to thank once again the many of you who have sent messages of support, whether it be to myself, or to the thousands of our team members, ship and shore, during these difficult times. We look forward to sailing again soon and welcoming you back onboard.”