P&O Cruises Deny Boarding for Disabled Customer Over Form Dispute

A disabled man has described feeling “hopeless” after being denied entry to a cruise ship, forcing his family to continue their trip without him.

Ventura cabins to avoid

Mike Ashton booked a P&O Cruises trip to Spain, Portugal, and France along with his wife, daughter, and mother-in-law. Their excitement turned into despair when they reached Southampton, only to be informed that Mike could board the Ventura, but his wheelchair couldn’t.

The 69-year-old cancer survivor from Flitwick said that staff claimed he hadn’t filled out the necessary form about his wheelchair. Mike, however, insists he never received such a form.

“They said they sent me emails twice, but I checked online 30 times. I did everything right,” stated Mike when speaking to his local new site Bedford Today.

This wasn’t Mike’s first experience with P&O Cruises. The previous year, he booked a similar trip with a wheelchair-accessible room without any issues. He made both bookings over the phone and was never informed about any additional requirements.

P&O staff explained that without prior knowledge of his wheelchair, they couldn’t ensure adequate assistance in case of an emergency.

Despite booking an accessible cabin, they argued that it didn’t automatically mean he would be using a wheelchair. They were prepared to let him board, but only without his wheelchair.

Faced with an agonising choice, the family decided to board without Mike to avoid losing the cost of their cruise. Mike recounted, “I said goodbye to my crying daughter. I felt humiliated and embarrassed. I felt guilty. They made me feel more disabled and I felt discriminated against. I felt hopeless and very lonely.”

“If I couldn’t have driven, I would have been stranded,” he added.

A spokesperson for P&O Cruises expressed regret, saying, “We are so sorry this happened to Mr Ashton and he was not able to board. The on-board needs questionnaire is on My P&O Cruises (our online portal) to be completed – it is not sent out by email.

“It is also very clear on the front page of My P&O Cruises that this is to be completed if needed. If Mr Ashton was booked in an accessible cabin, he or his agent will have been sent emails prompting him to log in to My P&O Cruises to complete the questionnaire.”

This incident underscores the importance of ensuring all necessary forms and requirements are clearly communicated and accessible to avoid such unfortunate situations.

P&O has taken steps to make sure that there will always be enough crew to help wheelchair-using passengers in an emergency situation. This means that anyone using a wheelchair or scooter must register.

This applies even when a passenger argues they could get themselves into a lifeboat unaided.

The cruise line will now still insist that only a limited number of wheelchair-using passengers board, so that there are enough crew to assist guests if they are called to the lifeboats, in case the guest was separated from their family and unable to walk unaided.


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Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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3 thoughts on “P&O Cruises Deny Boarding for Disabled Customer Over Form Dispute”

  1. Just tried to book a Queens Grill cabin on Queen Victoria – 18th November 2024 but was refused because I wanted to take my folding mobility scooter…
    Evebtually got SKY Princess Mini- suite for 16th November

    Will not cruise with Cunard or P&o again as we are in our 80s and do not need the hassle…

  2. This is disgusting from P and O. I was planning to cruise with them next year but as a wheelchair user myself, I will not now, we have been on several cruises and I have never been asked to give information on my wheelchair. If you book an accessible cabin then you obviously have access needs. I have stayed in ordinary cabins with my wheelchair too and never had an issue.
    It seems P and O have some issues around what they are telling people if the person involved was told he was sent emails and he was looking for them when in fact he needed to go to a portal to fill in info, if they managed all the other info requested the wheelchair stuff must be well hidden.
    Again the comment about having enough staff to make sure everyone can get to a lifeboat surely is based on the numbers of accessible cabins as a basic, everyone may need some help.

  3. This has happened to a lot of people… P&O have a pre-printed standard letter they hand out at the terminal.

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