P&O Cruises and Cunard have extended their suspension of operations by a month until 15 May.
The completion and delivery of P&O’s newest ship Iona, due to enter service in May, has also been delayed as working restrictions in Germany led to a “temporary slowdown” at the Meyer Werft shipyard.
P&O president Paul Ludlow said the line’s original return date of 11 April was “just not feasible in light of the government announcements last week”.
“Given the current guidelines, it is prudent and practical to extend the pause until normal operations can be resumed,” he added.
Ludlow said P&O was working with Meyer Werft’s team “to look at the impact upon [Iona’s] delivery”, with the ship in the final stages of outfitting.
“We are so sorry for the disappointment that this will cause to everyone who was excited about her arrival and particularly those agents who have booked guests on Iona’s maiden voyage and also those agents who were due to join us for the Shine event during the inaugural period.
“As soon as we have more clarity on the rescheduled delivery date we will let everyone know and we are keeping our agent partners regularly updated via emails and on the Shine Rewards Club website.”
Ludlow said the line’s agent partners “have been, are, and will remain critical to the future success of P&O Cruises”.
“We thank them all for the continued support and understanding. Their work and effort on behalf of our mutual guests in recent weeks has been outstanding. We share their dismay that high street branches are closed during this usually buoyant and popular time.
“As we work through the evolving restriction on ports around the world future itineraries may be subject to change and so we are looking at how we phase our ships back into service.”
Guests with cruises booked up to, and including, 15 May will receive a future cruise credit of 125%, which will be fully commissionable.
Ludlow added: “Thank you too to all our guests who have taken advantage of the future cruise credits and rebooked with us – we really appreciate the loyalty they have shown and we cannot wait to welcome them back on board.”
Meanwhile Cunard said it will “continue to monitor government guidelines and travel restrictions in ports of call around the world” which may mean further changes to the timing of when each of the ships returns to service.
Guests who were due to sail between 11 April and 15 May will automatically receive a 125% future cruise credit.
This can be redeemed against any new booking, on any voyage sailing before the end of March 2022, providing the booking is made by the end of December 2021.
President Simon Palethorpe said: “The impact of Covid-19 is affecting personal routines and businesses as well as placing significant travel restrictions around the world.
“Everyone in the Cunard team is aware of the need to support the management and containment of Covid-19 globally. This includes protecting the health and safety of our guests and crew. It is therefore right we extend the pause in operations.
“It is too soon to know exactly how this situation will evolve. But I do know that we, the Cunard team, will commit all our resources, energy and talent to weather this storm and come out stronger than ever for our guests.
“We have been sailing for 180 years and we look forward to many more. We will get through these tough times together and look forward to welcoming our guests back on board again soon, when the time is right.”