Gulf Coast P&O Ferries

P&O Cruises chief explains why the firm has axed Gulf trips

The head of P&O Cruises Paul Ludlow has explained the thinking behind the decision to cancel cruises in the Gulf. The company had planned to sail in the region offering customers the chance to relax and enjoy time at sea with various ports of call on the schedule to help tourists get a flavour of the area.

But with increasing tension in the region (specifically with fears about the Strait of Hormuz) and real concerns that P&O ships could even become targets for unstable Iranian forces, Ludlow has confirmed that the firm has decided to withdraw its Oceana ship from the area. P&O Cruises will review the fluid situation and may well reintroduce the cruises next year, it is said.

Ships under British flags have become potential targets in the area after forces from the United Kingdom helped to snare a tanker from Iran sailing the coast of Gibraltar which was thought to be in the process of smuggling oil en route to war-torn Syria.

Most of the 50 departures between October and the following March on Oceana were due to pass through the strait. All bookings will be cancelled and customers will be handed a refund.

Ludlow, , who is the president of the company, said the disappointment of guests was understandable but that at the end of the day safety is the key issues and that no chances would be taken regards the wellbeing of both crew members and cruise-goers.

He added that the spike in tension brought into the spotlight following various attacks on tankers in the strait meant there really was no question of the firm continuing to run its Dubai and Arabian Gulf programme for the winter season.

He said: “We have therefore taken the unusual step of withdrawing Oceana from the region for the upcoming season. Whilst we appreciate our guests will be disappointed, the safety of our guests and crew is absolutely paramount and given our UK status, coupled with the uncertainty in the region, we have had to make this difficult decision.”

Meanwhile, on a more positive note, P&O Cruises’ new ship, Iona, will boast a host of family-friendly attractions, the company has confirmed. These will include an Italian ice cream parlour as well as circus acts. Diners will have a vast selection of choice when it comes to tucking in and these will include Asian cuisine, good old fish and chips, as well as a US-themed diner serving delicious burgers and hot dogs.

The ship, which will be able to house more than 5,000 passengers, is due to launch in the summer of 2020. And Ludlow explains that while it is not easy finding a holiday that caters to everyone’s needs and when travelling with children, the company thinks it has hit on a fantastic combination –adding that parents’ happiness can often depends on their children’s enjoyment.