Firstly, and most importantly, I hope you and your family and friends are keeping well and are managing with the practical, emotional and financial challenges that have faced us all recently. None of us could have predicted what an extraordinary year 2020 would be – certainly not last January when we announced Gary Barlow as our new ambassador for P&O Cruises. I remember very well the evening we met. We chatted about the year ahead, about Iona’s naming ceremony, Ionafest and how much he was looking forward to travelling with us. Last year was meant to be a celebratory one for P&O Cruises – one I had hoped so many of our guests would enjoy. But instead of celebrating, we were faced with a global pandemic that has had a devastating effect on the lives and businesses of so many.

It has had an untold impact across so many areas of our own business as we’ve navigated our way through the many curtailed, and then cancelled, cruises, as well as the ever-evolving restrictions to ensure our crew could return home. We also had to review our ways of working entirely. Overnight, more than 1,000 of our staff in Carnival House in Southampton moved to work at home, with all the technology and systems challenges that represented.

We were delighted that the majority of our guests opted for an enhanced Future Cruise Credit and have booked a holiday with us in the future. However, I’m very aware that for those of you who requested a refund, it took much longer than we would have liked. I am so sorry that the wait for refunds was often extended and frustrating.

Whilst hundreds of thousands of planned holidays and special occasions have had to be put on hold, we all need something to look forward to and it seems a good time to reflect on some of the positives. I cannot thank you enough for all the support we have seen: the cruise holidays many of you recreated at home; the kind messages you sent to my team and the crew on board; your social media posts looking forward to holidays this year and beyond.

We’re more determined than ever to give you the best holidays in the future. We’ve been working with global experts to develop new and enhanced protocols on board all our ships. Having travelled with us before, you’ll know that we’ve always upheld the highest standards of cleanliness on board. When we resume sailing, rest assured we’ll have everything in place to protect the health and well-being of our guests, crew and the communities we visit.

These protocols will enable you to book a holiday with P&O Cruises in complete confidence, knowing that we will look after you even before you step on board. As the scientific understanding of COVID-19 improves, our protocols will be continuously evaluated and adjusted. They will demonstrate our uncompromising commitment to giving you the most wonderful holiday with the reassurance that, from a public health perspective, we are doing the right thing at all times.

With a distinct chill in the air, it seems the right time to be dreaming of bluer skies for this year. We have our programme of holidays for summer 2022 now on sale and we can’t wait to see our stunning new ship Iona in Southampton.

New holidays, new itineraries, a new ship, a new year... and with that, a renewed sense of hope.

With very best wishes to you all,

Paul Ludlow, P&O Cruises President