Cruise News: P&O cruise ship passengers revolt over ‘prison’ conditions aboard World Cruise. Bad luck for ship where champagne bottle did not break as liner was blessed. A bad omen?
The Aurora has suffered a string of bad luck since its naming ceremony went awry.
Holidaymakers compared their round-the-world voyage on the Aurora to being in prison after engine problems forced the travel operator to cut five stops.
More than 600 passengers on the 93-night cruise attended an emergency meeting and formed a protest committee after missing three ports in New Zealand and two Pacific Islands.
P&O said passengers, who each paid upwards of £8,599 for the cruise, will receive compensation including £500 and a refund of the cost of four days’ cruising.
But the protest group – dubbed the Aurora Committee – is now threatening legal action to compensate for the cruise, which some passengers had saved for 20 years to afford.
It is just the latest in a history of failings and bad luck for the ship after the naming ceremony bottle failed to smash.
Committee member Jennifer Dunthorne said: “This failure to visit three ports in New Zealand and two Pacific Islands has turned this cruise ship into a prison for some.
“Only visiting two ports in 22 days is not what I saved for 20 years to do.
“This beautiful ship which has been the pride of the P&O fleet has become a red hot bed of distress, frustration and anger.
“So many people worked hard for so many years to afford this cruise. It is truly unforgivable.”
A second committee meeting with the ship’s captain Paul Brown was due to be held last night.
Problems on the 76,000-tonne Aurora, whose home port is Southampton, Hants, began within hours of leaving Sydney Harbour when it developed engine problems.
The ship limped to Auckland, New Zealand, where the saga continued, with the 1,736 passengers being told each day for six days the ship could not leave port.
This meant missing out on stops at Wellington, Napier, Bay of Islands, and Mooréa and Tahiti in French Polynesia.
Mrs Dunthorne said: “P&O offered some free drinks and derisory payments to compensate for shattered dreams.
“Passengers are outraged at the company’s apparent sole concern to concentrate on driving forward the ailing ship to pick up the next unsuspecting passengers on April 13 in Southampton by abandoning much of the cruise they had contracted to deliver.”
A spokeswoman for P&O said: “Having sustained damage to a thrust bearing, Aurora sailed from Auckland at 5pm on Thursday 12 March after a delay of five days to enable repairs to be undertaken.
“We greatly value the support and loyalty of our passengers and very much regret the disruption to Aurora’s World Cruise.
“In recognition of this we have since offered a compensation package which we believe to be a fair reflection of the disruption to the cruise, the actual amount of which will vary depending upon the fare paid.”
After leaving Auckland on Wednesday, Aurora took the most direct course to Honolulu from where she is expected to continue as scheduled to San Francisco and then on to Southampton.
Aurora has had a chequered history since she was launched in 2000.
At her naming ceremony, by the Princess Royal, the champagne bottle did not break as the vessel was blessed, which was considered a bad omen.
On her maiden voyage, the ship broke down in the Bay of Biscay and had to return to port.
Passengers were compensated to the tune of 6 million pounds.
In 2003 the norovirus bug affected a high number of passengers.
And in January 2005 P&O cancelled a much-delayed world cruise because of propulsion system problems on the 200 million-pound ship.
The 1,759 passengers on board, who had each paid up to £40,000, were all set to leave Southampton for a 103-day “Grand Voyage of the World”.
But the vessel had only made it to the Isle of Wight when engineers found a fault.
Last year hundreds of passengers had to undergo tests on board Aurora to see whether they had contracted a deadly strain of hepatitis.
A health probe was launched after seven passengers tested positive for hepatitis E.