P&O Cruises hopes to restart international sailings in the autumn following a season of UK coastal cruising this summer, according to president Paul Ludlow.
Ludlow said the line would sail a series of domestic itineraries until the end of September, adding: “then for the autumn, we hope that we’re going to pick up international cruises once again, once the world begins to open up more widely.”
Appearing on BBC Breakfast on Wednesday (17 March) to discuss the UK-based summer sailings - and P&O’s policy of only allowing fully vaccinated passengers onboard - Ludlow said customers were “overwhelmingly” in favour of its stance.
Guests must have received their second Covid vaccination dose at least seven days before departure and proof of vaccination will be required in order to board.
Although there is no passenger age restriction on the summer itineraries, guests of all ages must meet the requirements of the vaccination policy, P&O has stated.
“We talk to our guests regularly and they’re telling us overwhelmingly that this is what they want,” Ludlow said, going on to clarify the policy was “a decision for this summer” and would be revisited “for the autumn onwards”.
“This is in response to what guests are telling us they want this year,” he added.
Asked how the policy would be implemented, Ludlow said: “This is moving at pace so we anticipate by our first sailing on 27 June there will be a government-accredited scheme to prove your vaccination but at the very least, a letter from your GP would suffice.”
Ludlow was also questioned as to whether he was worried about public confidence in cruising “being dented” following the negative publicity some lines received at the start of the pandemic last year.
“I think since those images were seen, the world had learnt a lot about this awful disease and everyone has moved forward - our policies and procedures have evolved and the vaccination policy is an example of that,” he said.
“Testing of course keeps everyone healthy and well, so I think we’ve all moved through that now and our guests are telling us they can’t wait to come back and we can’t wait to welcome them aboard.”