My P&O Ferry Has Been Cancelled. What Are My Rights?

19th March 2022 by admin

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P&O has just (17 March, 2022) suspended services on four routes:

Media attention has, quite rightly, focused primarily on the appalling manner in which employees were treated by the company. However the position of travellers affected by the suspension should not be forgotten. Their rights are determined by EU Regulation No 1177/2010 which, despite Brexit, is still part of UK law with only minor, inconsequential, amendments.

As far as cancellation is concerned the Regulation provides that you must be informed of the cancellation as soon as reasonably possible. Then, if the cancellation will involve a delay of more than 90 minutes, you must be offered the option of either:


If you choose re-routing but this involves the need for overnight accommodation the ferry company must provide this for you for up to three nights but the cost will be limited to £70 per passenger per night. You are also entitled to snacks, meals and refreshments in reasonable relation to your waiting time in addition to the accommodation.

If you decide not to go for re-routing and opt for a refund you are not obliged to take vouchers. You are entitled to a cash refund which must be paid within seven days. You can of course accept a voucher if you wish.

You are also entitled to compensation while waiting for the re-routing on a scale related to the price of the ticket and the length of the delay. You will get 25% of the ticket price for a delay of at least:

If the delay exceeds double the time set out in points (a) to (d), you are entitled to 50% of the ticket price.

However you will not get this compensation if the cancellation is caused by weather conditions endangering the safe operation of the ship or by extraordinary circumstances hindering the performance of the service.

This raises the question of whether the P&O cancellations amount to ‘extraordinary circumstances’. Ultimately this is a question which can only be answered by a court but all the evidence suggests that P&O are cancelling for commercial reasons and this would be unlikely to be regarded as ‘extraordinary circumstances’.

According to a statement by Robert Courts, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport, made to Parliament on 17 March, DFDS have stepped into the breach and will honour valid tickets issued by P&O but on routes not served by DFDS passengers may face significant delays and/or disruption to their travel plans.

If they suffer losses exceeding what the Regulation provides for e.g. the loss of hotel accommodation on the Continent there is nothing preventing travellers claiming this but they would have to establish:


Further Reading.

A Guide to Effective Complaints

How to Pursue Your Rights Against a Travel Company

EU Regulation 1177 On the Rights of Passengers Travelling by Sea

Holiday Law by David Grant, Stephen Mason Simon Bunce


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