Cruise

P&O extends cruise pause, releases details about LGBTQIA+ and eclipse trips

P&O Cruises Australia has extended its pause in operations until the end of July, but the line said it “remains positive” about the cruise industry’s return to service.

The current rolling pause will affect cruises scheduled from 18 June to 30 July, 2021, as well as voyages to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands which will be cancelled for the remainder of the year.

This also affects this year’s Cairns season, where Pacific Explorer was to be based for two months from October.

“We are sorry that some of our guests will be unavoidably inconvenienced by these changes to the existing schedule at a time when we remain optimistic about returning to service as society keeps opening up,” P&O Cruises Australia president Sture Myrmell said on Thursday.

“We are continuing our discussions with governments and health authorities to develop a framework for the staged resumption of cruising.

“As those discussions continue, today’s changes are necessary as we take a practical approach to the current environment and continue to look forward to better days ahead.”

P&O has also extended its P&O Assurance policy, which will now cover all cruises departing before 1 July 2022, and will apply to all existing and future bookings made before 12 May 2021.

Guests who book before that date will be able to cancel their cruise up to 75 days prior to sailing and receive a full refund with no cancellation fee.

Meanwhile, guests who choose to cancel their cruise between 75 and 14 days prior to the scheduled departure will have their cancellation fee returned to them as a future cruise credit.

Looking ahead, the line has also announced a couple of special cruises that will take place in 2022 and 2023.

Next year, the line will be flying the rainbow flag with the launch of its first ‘Pride Cruise’ – a celebratory weekend at sea created especially for members of the LGBTQIA+ community, their friends, family and supporters.

Joining P&O Cruises in the new sailing will be a raft of community organisations that support the LGBTQIA+ community through health, well-being and social initiatives. On board will be Bobby Goldsmith Foundation, Harbour City Bears and Queer Screen, which will showcase its first ‘Queer Screen @ Sea Film Festival’.

The homegrown cruise line has also partnered with some of the best names in the Australian entertainment business to develop the three-night cruise, including talented artists and entertainers who are champions of equality.

In April 2023, P&O will be departing a once-in-a-lifetime five-night cruise that will track over the North West Cape of Western Australia near Exmouth, the only location on mainland Australia where the event can be viewed as a total solar eclipse.

Also known as the ‘king of eclipses’, this solar eclipse will take place at 11.27am on 20 April 2023 and promises to be an unforgettable experience as the moon completely covers the sun for one minute and 16 seconds, creating darkness and making the sun’s fainter corona visible to the naked eye.

There were only five total solar eclipses visible from Australia last century and it has been almost 50 years since Western Australia has experienced one.

The 2023 total solar eclipse is particularly special, as it will occur as part of a rare hybrid eclipse – a form of eclipse which has not been visible from Australia for almost 1,000 years.

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