P&O Cruises Australia announced that Pacific Jewel is being temporarily withdrawn from service to enable a complex repair to be carried out on an extraordinary fault identified in a section of the ship’s propulsion system.

As a consequence, with the deepest regret, P&O Cruises has advised passengers of the cancellation of two Pacific Jewel cruises.

Affected passengers are being offered an apology, a full refund of their cruise fares paid and future cruise credits as a goodwill gesture acknowledging their disappointment.

Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia, which operates P&O Cruises, said the fault in Pacific Jewel’s propulsion system was so rare that technical experts believed the equipment involved was expected to last a lifetime of use.

“We examined the possibility of a partial repair that would have allowed Pacific Jewel to continue her cruise schedule but only under operating restrictions,” Ms Sherry said.

“However, we have taken what we believe is the responsible course and in the best interests of passenger safety and security by temporarily withdrawing Pacific Jewel from service so a fuller repair can be carried out.

“Any decision to cancel a cruise is deeply regretted because of the disappointment it involves for passengers.”

Pacific Jewel’s Melbourne Cup cruise J033, due to leave Sydney on October 30, and J035, a 14-night cruise to Fiji due to depart Sydney on November 13, have been cancelled. To acknowledge their disappointment, passengers booked on these cruises have been offered:

•  A full refund of their cruise fare paid
•  25% of the cruise fare paid as a credit on a future P&O Cruises’ booking that is booked and deposited prior to December 31, 2010 for travel prior to November 30, 2011.

A major communication program to agents and passengers is currently taking place to offer these passengers bookings on alternative cruises on the three other ships in the P&O Cruises’ fleet, Pacific Dawn, Pacific Sun and Pacific Pearl.

Pacific Pearl will join the P&O Cruises’ fleet in December beginning a cruise season from Auckland before cruising from Sydney in February 2011.