Members Respond to P&O New Year's Cruise Bedlam

January 13, 2009
P&O Cruises' Ventura P&O has remained rather tight-lipped about Ventura's highly publicized New Year's cruise -- but our members haven't. As we reported yesterday, disgruntled passengers claimed that fellow guests onboard the sailing disregarded cruise etiquette by hoarding deck chairs and picking fights in public spaces, with the supposition that low-cost, last-minute fares attracted the rowdy crowd. There were even reports of alleged arson attempts.

P&O provided us with a statement yesterday, claiming that the cruise line has received no correspondence on such issues thus far and that unsold cabins were filled without "undue discounting." Today, there's little new information to share -- only that a spokesperson says there are no current plans to provide compensation to passengers who had a negative cruise experience; individual complaints and concerns will be addressed as they come in.

However, chatter hasn't slowed on our message boards, with members sharing opinions on the cause and effect of the bad behavior that reportedly occurred onboard:

Some posters, like G'ma, agree quite vocally with the supposition that "cut-rate" fares, in general, attract a rowdier passenger base than was once usual: "With super-cheap rates being offered as a normal part of doing business, cruising has attracted a certain clientele of low character and little or no regard for rules, laws and no knowledge of cruising at all ... [cruise lines] all need to hire and train more security who need to be visible and observant day and night ... and who actually enforce the rules, take control of the drunks, drag the brats back to their parents."

On the flip side, stopgo makes a different point: "Bad behaviour happens in every section of society. I think we have to be careful of labeling people on lower income as ... louts and troublemakers. To me £900 [the price reportedly paid on last-minute bookings] is a lot of money and for many people I know, but none of us are ... troublemakers." And still others believe the reports were overblown: "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story," posts Rasa Sayang.

Perhaps the silver lining is that, despite the seemingly severe goings-on, not all passengers were aware of or impacted by them. Member jwfhunts, who just recently submitted his member review from this sailing, writes, "There were reports that there were a number of fights onboard, and those guests were locked up in the brig, but we never witnessed any such fights or any real drunkenness ... We thoroughly enjoyed the traditional P&O experience and would recommend them without reservation."

Whether this is an isolated incident, fueled by excessive holiday merrymaking, or, indeed, a trend to be watched remains to be seen. We'll keep you posted.

--by Melissa Baldwin Paloti, Managing Editor, with reporting by Kelly Ranson, U.K. Editor

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Passengers Behaving Badly on P&O's Ventura