Still your incredible P&O Cruises holiday; a few reassuring changes

We cannot wait to sail again and when the time is right, you can have the confidence to cruise, knowing we’ve been working hard to make sure every element of your holiday experience is covered. Our new protocols ensure you’ll still be able to enjoy the holiday you dreamed of, even though some aspects may initially feel a little different.

The changes are designed to protect the health of everyone on board as well as the destinations we visit, and we hope you’ll find these both comforting and easy to adjust to when we finally take to the sea again.

At this time, we have outlined the necessary measures for when we return to sailing in line with current guidance but as the world evolves, so may our policies and procedures. We will continue to work with the highest levels of government and scientific advisors to continually review our health protocols. Rest assured we’ll be doing everything we can to make sure you still enjoy an incredible P&O Cruises holiday. 

Our new protocols

As we prepare to return to sea we’re combining over 180 years’ experience with the expertise of foremost accredited scientists, medical professionals and government advisors to deliver the P&O Cruises holiday you expect.

All guests and crew will be required to follow enhanced health and well-being measures to protect everyone on board. These have been developed with guidance from our 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 mandatory wearing of face masks in certain areas of the ship. All guests will need to comply with this face mask policy in order to travel. Crew will also undergo a strict testing and quarantine regime as well as regular testing during their time on board. Our protocols are subject to change, as we will continue to work with our experts and with government bodies to ensure all of our practices evolve in line with latest advice, with our primary focus always being to protect the health and well-being of our crew and guests and the communities we visit.

Although the exact measures may change as the advice continues to evolve, you can have the confidence that we will have in place pre-booking and boarding health screening, the highest levels of cleanliness throughout the ships, as well as approved standards for the service of food and drink, entertainment and experiences on board and on shore.

For years, we have had in place many of the protocols now considered advisable for other social gathering venues, such as hand-sanitising stations and rigorous cleaning and disinfecting procedures. For years, we have also gone beyond those protocols by asking guests to complete a health declaration form and having a comprehensive medical facility on board each ship providing 24/7 medical care and treatment and this will, of course, continue across the fleet.

Working with Bureau Veritas

Bureau Veritas is a world-leading provider in marine and offshore testing, inspection and certification. To ensure the highest level of independent and specialist expertise on all health and hygiene standards, Bureau Veritas has partnered with the Cleveland Clinic which is recognised as the leader in this field.

P&O Cruises is working with Bureau Veritas to conduct a comprehensive review of our operations before we resume sailing.

This will help ensure we are fully compliant with the UK Government, UK Chamber of Shipping and other recognised and relevant standards as required to protect the health and well-being of crew and guests and the communities we visit.

The programme will include simulation exercises to audit all aspects in practice. 

Guest and crew well-being

We are committed to delivering the highest standards of health, safety and well-being for our guests, crew and the wider communities we visit. To achieve this:

  • Every area of the ship will be rigorously and regularly cleaned and disinfected
  • We’ll provide additional hand-sanitising stations
  • We have enhanced our on-board ventilation systems to provide improved filtration and increased fresh air
  • We’ll adhere to approved, up-to-date guidance for every aspect of the holiday experience including the mandatory use of face masks and social distancing which will be in place in certain  areas
  • We will be operating initially with a reduced occupancy on our ships to support our new protocols
  • Crew will undergo a strict testing and quarantine regime as well as regular testing during their time on board
  • We have plans in place, tailored for each ship, to manage medical needs, including dedicated cabin capacity for isolation, should this be required.

Vaccine policy

When we first return to sailing, we will be offering a series of UK getaways on board Britannia and Iona. Given the advanced progress of the UK vaccination programme, and strong expressed preference on the part of our 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.

For these cruises the definition of “vaccinated” is a minimum of seven days following the second dose of the currently approved COVID-19 vaccines being administered. Proof of vaccination and the dates given will be required (approved forms of evidence will be confirmed closer to time of departure) and this will be required to be shown at the terminal prior to boarding. Failure to provide this evidence will result in denial of boarding at your own expense. There is no age restriction on this series of UK coastal cruises but all guests of all ages must meet the requirements of the COVID-19 vaccination policy.

All other P&O Cruises holidays on sale do not currently require guests to be vaccinated.

As the vaccine roll out progresses and the government has announced its intended roadmap for the future, the guidance is continually evolving. Pre-embarkation COVID-19 tests may be required as part of our framework of protocols and will be complimentary in the price of your holiday. We will update this page as necessary and update all guests prior to their holiday departure date. Please do ensure that your preferences and details are up to date in My Account.

Pre-existing medical requirements

It is understood that those with certain pre-existing medical requirements or of a certain age may experience more severe symptoms should they contract COVID-19 (coronavirus). We strongly recommend that you review the UK government guidance prior to making travel arrangements; this can be found here.

If you have any existing medical requirements, we advise you to discuss your travel plans with your doctor. We have put together a simple health advisory letter that you can provide to your GP so they can verify if you’re safe to travel.

DOWNLOAD HEALTH ADVISORY LETTER

All our ships have medical centres on board staffed by experienced doctors and nurses available 24/7, to help support your health needs. We are following all latest guidance to evolve our enhanced protocols to protect the health and well-being of guests, crew and the communities we visit once we begin sailing again.

When we return to sailing unfortunately we will be unable to accept guests who have the following medical requirements:

  • Supplementary oxygen (including via oxygen concentrator)
  • Mechanical ventilatory support (except for overnight CPAP for sleep apnoea)
  • Dialysis
  • Within the 14 days prior to the cruise: 
  • Have been unwell with confirmed or suspected COVID-19
  • Have been in close contact with someone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19
  • Have been advised to self-isolate under a government Test and Trace system

We are so sorry to have to make this change, but we need to follow new industry procedures for the protection of everyone on board. Any guest that is impacted by the requirement for supplementary oxygen, mechanical ventilatory support or dialysis will be given a full refund of monies paid to date for their bookings.

Before you board

Prior to your departure, P&O Cruises will send you the latest public health guidance as well as pre-cruise information about mitigating the risk of COVID-19, along with a health declaration questionnaire. Please read this carefully as this will include what to expect when you arrive at the terminal, your time on board, any country specific requirements to be aware of and other relevant protocols while you are travelling with us.

If you’re booked on a fly-cruise, please refer to your airline for their latest protocols and air travel advice. You can take a look at the government’s safer aviation guidance including how to travel safely in airports and on aircraft here.

When we first return to sailing, we will be hosting UK getaways on board Britannia and Iona. Given the advanced progress of the UK vaccination programme, and strong expressed preference on the part of our 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.

If you are travelling with friends and family, please let us know at the time of booking so that we can link your parties to form one travelling group up to a maximum number allowed by UK Government guidelines at the time of sailing. This will help to co-ordinate your experience. Please call our Customer Contact Centre or speak to your travel agent to link your bookings before you sail. 

Boarding your ship

We have enhanced our boarding procedures, working with our partners in the ports. In the cruise terminal you will be required to adhere to the wearing of face masks and social distancing, in accordance with all current guidelines.

When we first return to sailing with our UK coastal cruises, all guests will need to provide proof of vaccination and the dates given (approved forms of evidence will be confirmed closer to time of departure) and this will be required to be shown at the terminal prior to boarding. Failure to provide this evidence will result in denial of boarding at your own expense. This also applies to providing proof of suitable travel insurance.

All guests and crew boarding our ships will undergo health screening and pre-embarkation COVID-19 tests may be required as part of our framework of protocols. If required, it will be complimentary in the price of your holiday. We will update ‘Our Assurance to you’ page as necessary and update all guests prior to their holiday departure date. Please do ensure that your preferences and details are up to date in My Account.

If you test positive for the virus, you will be denied boarding, but we’re pleased to say you’ll receive an FCC to the value of the cruise and we will automatically refund any pre-cruise purchases made through My P&O Cruises*. If you were part of a linked booking, your friends or family would also be able to opt for the FCC and receive a refund for any pre-cruise purchases made. That way, you can enjoy your break when the time is right. Guests must link with other travellers at the time of booking.

*If your cruise is part of a wider holiday package booked through a tour operator please contact your tour operator for information relating to their policies in place should you be denied boarding.

Cleanliness and care

We have always taken great pride in our standards of cleanliness on board. Our enhanced measures will ensure all areas of the ship are even more thoroughly and regularly cleaned, with products which have proven effectiveness against COVID-19. There will be added hand sanitiser and hand-washing facilities available throughout the ship.

We will be initially operating with a reduced occupancy on our ships to ensure we’re able to adhere to the latest social distancing guidelines. Social distancing will be in place in all public areas and lifts will have limited capacity, though still available to those who need to use them. Despite fewer travellers than normal, we’ll still bring the P&O Cruises holiday atmosphere that our guests know and love.

The wearing of face masks in certain areas of the ship will be a mandatory requirement. 

Eating and drinking

We all know that delicious food and drink are a core part of your holiday and this will certainly not change. You may be asked to pre-book a table in the restaurants; the buffets and deck grills will now be served by our waiting staff and you will only be permitted to dine with your household or linked travelling group, up to a maximum number allowed by government guidelines at the time of sailing. We are adapting our restaurants and bars to ensure you can enjoy your experience and maintain social distancing in line with the guidance.

Entertainment

One of the best things about a P&O Cruises holiday is the chance to be entertained around the clock. From theatre shows to live bands, you’ll find the show will go on! Our performances will be adapted so that artistes and audience adhere to the latest guidance. You may be asked to pre-book a performance in key venues.

Activities and leisure

All of your favourites - shops, spa, salon, gym, pools, casinos, activities and children’s clubs will be operating but will be subject to the latest approved guidance to minimise contact, reduce the number of guests in each area and maintain the highest levels of cleanliness. You may see changes including pre-booked appointment slots and additional services such as an on-board retail concierge and selected shops offering a pre-order service on a hand-picked range of products for collection or delivery to cabin. Certain activities or areas of the ship that would make social distancing difficult may not be in operation when we return to sailing. We will keep all guests aware of any applicable procedures before they sail.

Your accommodation

Your cabin steward will maintain the cleanliness and tidiness of your accommodation to our enhanced standards although we would ask that you are not in your cabin at the same time as the steward. We will also be introducing an enhanced in-cabin television service providing essential updates and an extended room service menu for you to enjoy as you relax in your cabin.

Seeing the sights on shore

You can explore our amazing destinations, being able to relax and roam, knowing every measure has been taken to protect your health and well-being. For the time being, you will only be able to go ashore through our new range of organised and vetted shore experiences. Port transfer and shore experience operators will be subject to new policies and procedures to reflect the latest approved guidance in line with our on-board protocols. 

On top of that, we’ve a whole wealth of brand new shore experiences available with options to suit every budget and every traveller. We know how much our guests love to get under the skin of each destination and so we’re introducing a new range of affordable options to make sure you have the opportunity to still experience the best of each exciting stop. Our new experiences will help you get to the heart of each port and you can be reassured knowing your well-being is protected. Unfortunately some of our existing experiences may have to be put on hold at this time if they cannot be run in a COVID-safe environment, but we’ll have plenty of new options to share with you soon. Additional health screening may be required when you return to the ship. 

Time to go home – Test and Trace

All guests and crew will need to complete a guest locator form to adhere to the UK government’s Test and Trace initiative. Local country initiatives may also apply at the time of sailing.

Free flexible transfers

For added peace of mind, you’ve the option of changing your booking as many times as you like, free of charge up to 30 days before your holiday departs, for cruises sailing on or before 30 September 2021. For cruises departing on or after 1 October 2021 standard payment terms apply. And we guarantee you a 125% Future Cruise Credit in the unlikely event we need to cancel your cruise. 

ABTA and ATOL protected

P&O Cruises is fully bonded with ABTA and your fly-cruise holidays are ATOL protected.

Insurance

It’s mandatory for all UK guests to have comprehensive cruise-specific travel insurance when you sail with us. Whilst we hope you never have to claim, the policy will ensure you’re able to relax and enjoy your holiday knowing you’re protected should you need it. When travelling with us, your insurance must include medical and repatriation cover of £2 million minimum that includes cover for emergency evacuations and medical expenses related to COVID-19. You must also ensure your policy includes cover for travel, cancellation and curtailment and full cover for any and all pre-existing medical conditions worldwide, or as a minimum, in the countries you are due to visit. Your travel insurance documents will be checked at the terminal and must cover the entire duration of your holiday. Unfortunately you will be denied boarding, at your own expense, if you don’t have appropriate cover.

P&O Cruises has partnered with Holiday Extras to offer appropriate travel insurance for our holidays.

Find out more about the level of cover you will need here.

Future Cruise Credit

If you are unable to cruise due to a positive COVID-19 test within 14 days of departure, you will be denied boarding but we’re pleased to say you’ll receive a Future Cruise Credit (FCC) to the value of the cruise and we will automatically refund any pre-cruise purchases made through My P&O Cruises*.

If you were part of a linked booking, your friends or family would also be able to opt for the FCC and refund for purchases made. Just ask us to make sure all members of your travelling group are linked when you make your booking.

*If your cruise is part of a wider holiday package booked through a tour operator please contact your tour operator for information relating to their policies in place should you be denied boarding.

FAQs

How have you developed your protocols?

These have been developed with guidance from our global medical and public health experts and scientists and in close coordination with UK government agencies.

 

My insurance won’t cover me for Covid-19, can I still travel with you? 

It is mandatory for all UK guests to take out comprehensive travel insurance for their holiday with us. While we hope you never have to use it, the policy will ensure you’re able to relax and enjoy your holiday with the peace of mind that you’re protected should you need it.

When travelling with us, your insurance must include medical and repatriation cover of £2 million minimum that includes cover for emergency evacuations and medical expenses related to COVID-19. You must also ensure your policy includes cover for travel, cancellation and curtailment and full cover for any and all pre-existing medical conditions worldwide, or as a minimum, in the countries you are due to visit.

Your travel insurance documents will be checked at the terminal and must cover the entire duration of your holiday. Unfortunately you will be denied boarding, at your own expense, if you don’t have appropriate cover.

P&O Cruises has partnered with Holiday Extras to offer appropriate, comprehensive travel insurance cover for our holidays. To find out more, visit www.holidayextras.com/pocruises or phone 0800 093 3070 and quote PAOHX

 

I have an underlying medical condition, is it safe for me to travel?  Will I be denied boarding?

It is understood that those with certain pre-existing medical conditions or of a certain age may experience more severe symptoms should they contract Covid-19 (coronavirus).  We strongly recommend that you review the UK Government guidance prior to making travel arrangements; this can be found at: 

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/people-at-higher-risk/whos-at-higher-risk-from-coronavirus/

Unfortunately we will be unable to accept guests who require supplementary oxygen, medical ventilatory support or Dialysis:

We are so sorry to have to make this change, but we need to follow new industry procedures for the protection of everyone on board. If you are unsure or have concerns, we’ve produced a medical advisory note for you to discuss with your GP.

Supplementary oxygen (including via oxygen concentrator) – To comply with health and safety regulations there is a limit on board for how much Oxygen we can store. Unfortunately as we will be increasing our own supply of Oxygen on board we will be unable to carry additional supplies for individual guests.

Mechanical ventilatory support (except for overnight CPAP for sleep apnoea, guests who only require overnight CPAP for sleep apnoea can travel) – The mechanical ventilators that we hold in the medical centres on board need to be retained for medical centre use, therefore we would not be able to support if the guests equipment fails.

Dialysis – This requirement presents a time critical need for treatment, if we are not able to access replacement dialysis equipment/fluids if needed this brings about a significant risk to the guest.

If you have any existing medical conditions, we advise you to discuss your travel plans with your doctor.

 

Will guests be expected to wear face masks on the ship?

It will be mandatory for all guests and crew to wear face masks in certain areas of the ship. All guests will need to comply with this face mask policy in order to travel.

 

I have a booking and no longer wish to travel due to the changes on board.  What are my options?

Your cancellation would be subject to the standard cancellation policy. Guests will still have a wonderful holiday with us, albeit with a few changes. These new measures, which may evolve as guidance changes, are designed specifically to protect the health and wellbeing of guests, crew and the communities we visit. Our flexible booking policy allows guests to transfer their holiday as many times as they like prior to the balance due date.

 

What happens if there is an outbreak onboard?

Our comprehensive new protocols are designed to protect the health and wellbeing of all our guests and crew. We have plans in place, tailored for each ship, to manage medical needs, including dedicated cabin capacity for isolation should this be required.

 

Until when will these protocols be in place?

These protocols will be in place until government guidance changes and we will adapt and evolve accordingly. We'll keep this page up to date with the latest guidance.

 

Why can't I leave the ship without booking a shore experience?

In line with the approved health protocols all shore experiences will be on organised excursions only using vetted operators who will be subject to regular testing and ongoing guidance.

Our shore experience operators will be subject to new screening and guidance/ temperature checks/and or health screening may be carried out prior to boarding the ship after time on shore.

 

As guests can only go on shore on an organised excursion, does this mean the tour is included in the cost of our holiday or is it an additional charge?

We are currently working on a new programme that will be available including options at a lower price and available to purchase via My P&O Cruises eight weeks prior to departure.  The new programme and additional options will ensure that we have options available for all guests to travel ashore.