(3:12 a.m. AEST) -- P&O Cruises has extended its suspension of all cruise operations in Australia, where voyages are now not expected to resume until after September 17, 2020 following the Australian government's cruising ban extension. P&O Australia still hopes to restart New Zealand voyages after August 31, 2020.
This extension follows the line's initial announcement in March to suspend for 30 days. The decision was made in light of advice from the Australian Government that mass gatherings should be limited to no more than 500 people and Australians should reconsider their need to travel.
P&O Cruises Australia president Sture Myrmell said the responsible course was for the company to support the efforts of federal and state governments and their senior health experts as they work to contain the spread of COVID-19.
"At the same time, we are acutely aware of the disappointment for our guests whose cruise holidays have been unavoidably cut short or cancelled at short notice," Myrmell said.
"Cancelling or reducing the length of a cruise is the last thing we would ever want to do but these are extraordinary times and we have no hesitation in putting the health and well-being of our guests, crew and the wider community first."
For passengers whose future voyages have been cancelled, P&O has offered a full refund or a future cruise credit equal to 100 percent of the cost of their original cruise, plus an onboard credit of AU$200 per person for voyages two to four nights in length; and AU$400 per person for journeys five nights and longer. The Future Cruise Credit can be used towards any new cruise booking with P&O Cruises, booked and deposited by 31 December 2021.
Myrmell thanked P&O's loyal guests and said that he looks forward to getting past this coronavirus challenge so that cruise operations can return to normal.
"There are many exciting things for us to share with our guests including the great additions to Pacific Explorer following her recent dry dock and Pacific Adventure's arrival later this year," he said.
P&O will make direct contact with passengers whose cruises have been affected to let them know of this development and to apologise for the disruption. Travellers can check their bookings online for the status of their cruise and relevant goodwill offer, if applicable.