Interesting to see how the latest problems afflicting P&O’s Aurora are being dealt with as they spread across the Internet and in the Press.
The Daily Echo, in Aurora’s home port of Southampton, reported on Saturday that angry passengers had staged a revolt after the ship had called at just two ports in 22 days, following the repairs which necessitated an extended stay in Auckland, New Zealand.
There was confusion in the story as to the ship’s whereabouts – it was said to be in Honolulu, when by Saturday it had already left San Francisco, where many of the passengers had disembarked at the end of their world cruise segment.
The Echo quoted passenger Jennifer Dunthorne as saying: “This failure to visit three ports in New Zealand and two Pacific Islands has turned this cruise ship into a prison for some.
“Only visiting two ports in 22 days is not what I saved for 20 years to do. So many people worked hard for so many years to afford this cruise. It is truly unforgivable.
“Passengers are outraged at the company’s apparent sole concern to concentrate on driving forward the ailing ship to pick up the next unsuspecting passengers on April 13 in Southampton by abandoning much of the cruise they had contracted to deliver.”
The report was lifted word-for-word onto the Daily Telegraph website later in the day, although it has since been developed further.
On Saturday evening a local freelance agency was touting the story to other papers, and by Monday, the Daily Express was predictably reporting a “mutiny” based on the same quotes from passenger Dunthorne.
Meanwhile, P&O say they have offered an average of about £1,000 per person, which was a fair reflection of the number of stops missed.
A spokesman said it “very much regretted” the disruption to the cruise. Having sustained damage to a thrust bearing’, Aurora sailed from Auckland at 5pm on March 12 after a delay of five days to enable repairs to be undertaken.”
“In recognition of this we have since offered a compensation package which we believe to be a fair reflection of the disruption to the cruise, the actual amount of which will vary depending upon the fare paid.”
The ports missed were Wellington, Napier, Bay of Islands, Moorea and Papeete. P&O will also substituted a call in Madeira with one in Ponta Delgada in the Azores in order to reach Southampton on schedule on April 13.
While the papers were making the most of the story, on CruiseCritic, pundits were commenting that there had been little in the way of uproar or outrage on their P&O message board. In fact, said editor in chief Carolyn Spencer-Brown, it had been “eerily quiet.”
She went on: “Aside from the one posting, a thorough search of CruiseCritic’s boards, plus other online sites, has yielded just about nothing in the way of passenger complaints,” adding that it “could be attributed to the fact that P&O promptly, and rather generously, offered its passengers fair compensation.”
So was the so-called committee, and passenger Dunthorne’s ‘mutiny’ just worked up to try to squeeze more compensation? Perhaps we’ll see when Aurora arrives back in Southampton, and homebound passengers share their thoughts.