During severe weather in Palma de Mallorca on Sunday, 27 August, a P&O cruise ship came lose from its mooring, being pushed by severe gusts of wind into colliding with a petrol tanker. A spokesperson for P&O Cruises announced that a small number of people sustained minor injuries following the collision and were looked after by the medical personnel onboard.
Although the Britannia ship itself did not sustain any damages, the collision caused “sustained structural issues” to one of the lifeboats, the spokesperson confirmed after inspection from a third-party surveyor. Since the boat could not be repaired onboard, the ship was not allowed to continue its course with the same number of passengers, the damaged lifeboat forcing 321 people to leave the cruise early.
“We are so sorry but these extraordinary circumstances mean that the ship is required, by maritime regulation, to return to Southampton with a reduced number of people on board. A limited number of guests and crew on board have been advised that they will be leaving the ship and will be returned to Southampton (or their starting point) by flight and transfer”, the P&O Cruises spokesperson said.
For the passengers allowed to stay onboard, the ship continued its course on Monday and is expected to reach its destination in Southampton on Friday, 1 September. “The guests remaining on board will be able to enjoy the entertainment and activities scheduled for the remainder of their trip”, the spokesperson added.
Passengers debarked the ship on a voluntary basis and were promised accommodation and flights home. However, according to one guest’s reports on X, formerly known as Twitter, P&O handled the situation poorly and instead of providing accommodation equivalent to the conditions they would have had abord Britannia, put them in “basically a shithole”.
Stephen Marsh, one of the guests who volunteered to fly home early, claimed that P&O insisted on accommodating all 321 departing passengers in the same hotel, which left them with little choice in the crowded Mallorca in the month of August. The hotel they were offered in the end not only did not provide basic amenities like shampoo and shower gel, but had faeces stains on the bed sheets, as Marsh showed in pictures.
“The hotel we are in is absolutely awful, I say hotel it’s more like a prison camp with the only thing missing are guard towers. Now in reception with hundreds of irate passengers complaining about the appalling standard, lack of basic amenities, soap, flooded corridors”, Marsh wrote.
Moreover, the passenger revealed that instead of taking a straightforward approach and telling everyone on the ship what the situation was, P&O approached guests individually with “many different stories of where we were flying to and where we were being accommodated”, thus leading the people who volunteered to leave the cruise early even more confused about where they would be accommodated or how they would get home.