Passengers' Christmas Day "Ruined" on a Luxury Cruise Maiden Voyage. "Not Ready to Sail."
"What an absolute shambles."
Christmas travel nightmares weren't confined to American skies this year. Passengers who booked a holiday cruise on a brand-new British luxury liner saw their dreams turn into something out of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation after a series of mishaps made it clear the ship "was simply not ready to sail," the UK Times reported this week.
Hours-long lines, disappearing reservations, disastrous dinners—read on to find out why passengers reported "an absolute shambles," "the worst" experience at sea, and more than one ruined Christmas.
P&O Cruises, a subsidiary of Carnival, had touted its new ship Arvia as the "latest evolution in the P&O Cruises experience," with features including 12 restaurants, a domed pool with a retractable roof, and an aerial obstacle course. A ticket on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to the Canary Islands cost thousands of dollars. But customers reportedly experienced disappearing ticket reservations, long lines for meals, and no wi-fi access.
Lynne Wheatley, 67, and her husband, Richard, 73, told the Times they paid $6,400 for the two-week trip. Once on board, they discovered that their reservation for Christmas dinner had been lost. "We waited two and a half hours and the food was awful," said Lynne Wheatley. "We were in a restaurant with no tablecloths—it was more like your kitchen table. I spoke to one couple who got sat down at 11pm." She added: "The ship is beautiful [but] it's a shame because it's ruined Christmas for a lot of people."
"The wi-fi is non-existent," Gwyndaf Jones, a 57-year-old restaurateur from Wales, told the Times. "It's the worst I've experienced at sea. I can't even get my emails, let alone stream as they promise." He added: "It's a lovely ship, but in hindsight they were not ready to sail".
Negative feedback from disappointed and angry passengers made it to several other news outlets and social media. Passenger Adrian Harvey told the BBC lines for Christmas dinner stretched for three-quarters of the ship's length on two decks. He was shown to his reserved table 90 minutes late, to find someone else was seated there. "The queues were horrendous… there were still people waiting for main courses at [11:00pm]," he said. "Queues, queues, queues at reception/internet/restaurants, even virtual queues where you make a booking… What an absolute shambles."
"We are so sorry for those guests affected by the IT and connectivity issues on Arvia's current cruise, which caused dining issues and restaurant delays for a proportion of guests on Christmas Day," a spokesperson for P&O Cruises told the Times. "This service was certainly not up to our usual high standards and we wholeheartedly apologize."
She said that technical teams had been working to resolve the problems. "We are doing everything possible to ensure our guests have a wonderful holiday for the rest of their time on board and enjoy all the activities, entertainment, and celebrations." The ship is slated to return to Southampton on January 6.