In response, P&O will provide passengers with a refund of the cost of cruise and a 25 percent future cruise credit -- which seems rather chintzy compensation for such a last-minute cancellation. Onboard expenses incurred by passengers who boarded on Tuesday will be waived.
The vessel was initially scheduled to depart at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, but prior to pulling out of Auckland's Princes Wharf, P&O announced that departure would be delayed until Wednesday evening at 11:30 p.m. so repairs could be made to a corroded ventilation duct. Pacific Star did in fact leave its original berth, but only to complete a 200-meter cruise (approximately 650 feet) to another wharf to make way for an incoming vessel. At 9 a.m. on Thursday, the cruise was officially cancelled.
The lines says that the damages, which remain undisclosed except for the ventilation issue, will require a stint in dry dock. Pacific Star is next scheduled to depart from Brisbane on August 15, but remarkably, P&O has not released information on how that cruise will be affected.
The depressing course of events was chronicled by over 100 posts on Cruise Critic's P&O - Australia forum. One user, arxcards, even created a YouTube video using time-lapsed bridge cam shots and Herman's Hermit's "Here Comes the Star" as the backing audio ("Look at me now I'm the loneliest guy in the world...").
The cancellation is the third in the last month for the troubled vessel. In July, P&O had to cancel two Pacific Star cruises due to severe damage -- broken windows, damaged hull -- resulting from a an especially potent South Pacific storm.
Pacific Star's tenure with P&O is nearing its end; the vessel is heading over to Spanish line Pullmantur (Royal Caribbean-owned) after completing this season in March 2008.
--by Dan Askin, Assistant Editor