The ‘ultimate escape’ staycation breaks go on sale this month, but the line has cancelled other cruises until the autumn
P&O Cruises is to offer a series of short-break and week-long UK cruises this summer. They will go on sale this month.
However, the line also announced that cruises on Arcadia, Aurora, Azura and Ventura have been cancelled until the end of August and on Britannia and Iona until the end of September.
P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: “Following recent government announcements and as the vaccine programme is rolled out across the globe, we can all begin to feel a sense of reassurance and hope that this current lockdown period in the UK will come to an end. Life can, we hope, slowly return to some semblance of our previous normality as hospitality opens up and summer holidays can be booked with confidence.
“While holidays here in the UK will be the first to become a reality, we will, of course, gradually see the return of international travel, but first we want guests to be able to enjoy a proper summer holiday at sea with the best in relaxation, entertainment and dining choice.
“These sailings will leave from our home port in Southampton and sail around UK coastal waters enjoying the summer sunshine. More details of dates, prices and the experience on board will be announced later this month, but they will, of course, all have flexibility, so guests can book with confidence.
“We hope that the UK ‘ultimate escape’ staycation option will have wide appeal and we will do our utmost to make it a very special time. There really will be something for everyone and the opportunity to spend precious and much longed-for time with family and friends.
“In order to offer these UK breaks it does mean that, unfortunately, we need to cancel some of our current published programme of holidays this summer.
“We remain in very close contact with the UK government and associated bodies as we monitor the latest situation and guidance on travel. From the moment we see travel restrictions lifting we will begin the significant logistical task to restart our operations. It will take some time for the first ship to return to service, followed by the phased return of the remaining fleet. We cannot wait to welcome everyone back on board with the protection of effective protocols to safeguard the health and well-being of all crew and guests.
“I really am so sorry for the disappointment these cancellations will cause, but hope that the new UK cruises will enable everyone to enjoy a wonderful holiday this summer.”
All guests whose cruises have been cancelled will automatically receive a future cruise credit (FCC) worth 125 per cent of what they paid. This can be redeemed against any new booking made by the end of December 2021, on any cruise on sale at the time of booking.
Alternatively, a 100 per cent refund is available through the form on pocruises.com and may be requested until December 2021.
Linda Reynolds, a Personal Travel Agent at Co-operative Travel, enjoyed a fabulous self-drive river boat holiday on the Thames in 2020. This is her snapshot of some of the areas you can visit while “messing about on the river”
Leisurely and lovely
Imagine having your own river boat cruiser and regally sailing along the River Thames. Bliss! Cruising from Benson in Oxfordshire showcases the best of the great British countryside. This UK break will bring tranquillity, pretty stretches of water, and acres of open fields, hills and farmland.
Boating holidays offer families, multigenerations, groups and couples the opportunity to enjoy the UK’s beautiful riverbanks, as the ever-changing views continuously glide past. Activities to enjoy along the way include swimming, fishing, bird-watching, riverside pubs and historic sights, as well as the relaxing experience of being on the river. Dogs are welcome, too. This really is a holiday for all the family.
The staff at Le Boat are excellent. As well as explaining the steering and safety manuals, they provide maps, lock information, tips and pub recommendations! Many of the locks are electronically operated – help is available, during summer months, from lock keepers, and fellow cruisers are happy to advise. You will get the hang of it in no time.
Groups and families can hire a self-drive cruiser to accommodate between two and ten people, which features en-suite cabins, galley kitchen, seating and upper steering and seating deck, plus areas to sunbathe and view the river.
The three-night route would allow you to cruise and easily stop at four of the following areas – Benson, Wallingford, Moulsford, Goring, Pangbourne-on-Thames, Reading, Sonning and Henley-on-Thames.
You can also pick a seven-night boating holiday to take in the Historic Royal Palaces of Windsor and Hampton Court, or pick up a boat at Chertsey depot.
This historic market town has independent shops, cafes, restaurants and a market. The Castle Gardens are a great place for a picnic. Wallingford is perhaps most famous for being the home of Agatha Christie and the setting of many of her stories.
The Swan Pub offers a sunny terrace overlooking the Thames and, with a dock for boats, it’s a perfect location to enjoy drinks and the all-day food menu. There are local shops and the village to explore, and Beale Wildlife Park is a must-visit for children, offering paddling pools, play areas and train rides alongside the monkeys and meerkats.
Caversham and Reading
It’s easy to find a dock in this area to visit one of the UK’s largest retail shopping centres. Cycling makes this area accessible along tow paths – you may bring your own bikes or hire from Le Boat. The village of Caversham was voted one of the best places to live in the UK in 2020. I recommend checking out the local family bakery, Warings, which does a marvellous selection of savouries and takeaway afternoon teas.
Henley is synonymous with the Henley Royal Regatta, an annual four-day series of rowing races, normally held in the first week of July. Visit the River & Rowing Museum and find the time to explore the many pubs and eateries of this picturesque town.
Linda uses her 32 years of experience and expertise to create the perfect holidays for her clients. She works to take away all the stress when it comes to travel booking, and the service provided is personal, tailored and complimentary. See thepersonaltravelagents.co.uk/?pta=linda-reynolds