'Long way from home': Cruise passengers denied boarding
A SYDNEY family has arrived in Gladstone frazzled and frustrated.
They should have been arriving to the port city on the Pacific Explorer but instead they booked a plane flight and a rental car under the understanding they would be able to join the cruise ship for the final five days of the tour.
Jill McIntosh, Robert Patene and nine-year-old Madeline McIntosh initially missed the boat in Sydney on Saturday, June 1.
They made contact with P&O Cruises where a phone operator told them they could meet the boat in Gladstone after speaking to their travel agent.
The proceeded to make contact with the booking agent and started their trip up to Gladstone. An email from their booking agent on Monday stated they had verbal confirmation from P&O that they would be able to board in Gladstone however three hours later they were informed they would not be able to board due to Gladstone being a restricted port.
Ms McIntosh said she felt "misled" by P&O cruises.
"I was completely utterly let down and abandoned," Ms McIntosh said.
"They had told us in Sydney that we could get on in Gladstone.
"It was the guy who I spoke to in the phone call who said five nights was better than nothing."
The family was offered to have cancellation costs waived so P&O could book another cruise.
Gladstone Port is a not a proclaimed port meaning passengers wishing to embark or disembark require Maritime Traveller Processing Committee approval at least 30 days prior to the arrival.
A P&O Cruise spokesperson said they had been "generous" in waiving the cancellation costs and being prepared to move the booking to a future cruise.
"It was always made clear that even if the possibility of joining the ship at Gladstone was considered, embarkation could not be guaranteed," they said.
"In fact, an approach was made but embarkation was declined by the authorities as Gladstone is not a proclaimed port.
"In the absence of any confirmation that boarding would be allowed, we were very surprised to learn that the guests travelled to Gladstone without any certainty of being allowed to embark Pacific Explorer.
"P&O Cruises has behaved reasonably in all the circumstances and our original offer to move the booking to a future cruise remains in place."
Ms McIntosh said the family had booked flights back home to Sydney on Thursday and would stay in Gladstone until then.
"We are a long way from home," she said.
"The cost of this whole thing is more than the cost of the cruise."