Cruise bookings boosted after P&O sackings

P&O Cruises ship Iona Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

P&O Cruises says it experienced a boost in bookings after P&O Ferries was widely criticised for sacking nearly 800 seafarers.

The cruise operator was attacked on social media last month by people who mistakenly believed it was linked to the ferry firm with a similar name.

The Southampton based firm launched a major advertising campaign, stating that they have been separate companies for two decades.

Asked if this attracted new bookings, Paul Ludlow, president of P&O Cruises, said: “For sure.”

He told the PA news agency: “Initially there was a little confusion. We spent quite a lot of money on educating people.

“It’s turned from a PR challenge to a PR opportunity.

“What we’ve cleverly done is, first remind people that we’re separate, second tell people that we offer amazing holidays.

P&O Cruises said it has seen a surge in demand for bookings. Credit: P&O Cruises

“That second line has spread virally because the whole story has spread virally.

“We’ve seen people booking, I think because they’ve been reminded that cruising with P&O Cruises is wonderful.”

He added: “It’s worked out better than we’d thought it might have done.”

The advertising campaign included the line: “Our names may both begin with P&O. But that’s where the similarity ends.”

P&O Cruises is owned by cruise company Carnival Corporation, whereas P&O Ferries is part of Dubai-based logistics giant DP World.

The ferry firm was widely condemned after replacing nearly 800 seafarers with cheaper agency workers without notice on March 17.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps called for chief executive Peter Hebblethwaite to resign.

The company has still not received regulatory approval to resume sailings on the key Dover-Calais route after its ships failed safety inspections.