Middle East Cruise News

Flight home to UK goes horribly wrong for Dubai cruise passengers

Virgin Atlantic and P&O Cruises found themselves on the back foot this week after a chartered flight from Dubai to Manchester for passengers ending a cruise aboard Oceana was unexpectedly cancelled.

Hundreds of passengers from Oceana’s recent 10-night roundtrip Dubai cruise, part of her 2019 Dubai cruise season, where meant to board a Virgin Atlantic chartered flight from Dubai International to Manchester.

Passengers had recently disembarked Oceana after a 10-night Dubai cruise

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The passengers had disembarked the ship and arrived at Dubai International at 9.30am for the morning flight, but were told it was delayed and would instead take off at 3pm. According to angry passengers, no reason was given for the delay.

At 3pm, passengers were then told that it would be delayed until 5.30pm.

According to Tom Iliffe, a 23-year-old chef from the UK, a staff member then told them that the plane was suffering mechanical issues.

“She said they were waiting for someone to sign the paperwork off for safety records so Boeing could get people onto the plane,” he told The Sun.

By 7pm, the flight was cancelled and passengers were told they would be moved to a hotel for the night, but it wasn’t until 11pm that buses started arriving to collect them.

An irate Iliffe said that it was 11.45pm by the time he and his mother, who he had taken the cruise with, reached the hotel, and 1.30am by the time they were given a room.

P&O’s Oceana is cruising roundtrip from Dubai during the current season, and the 2019/2020 cruise season

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“There was no food as the chefs had gone home and the hotel wasn’t expecting us. It was half-built with tarpaulin everywhere and no rep,” he said.

While passengers’ anger on social media has been almost uniformly directed at Virgin Atlantic, P&O Cruises has issued its own apology for the mis-handling of the travel arrangements.

“We are so sorry our guests were delayed by the cancelled Virgin flight returning from Dubai after their holiday on Oceana,” P&O Cruises said in a statement. “We want all our guests to have a seamless experience from beginning to end and we are making it a priority to look into this with Virgin.”

Virgin Atlantic, for its part, confirmed that a mechanical issue had caused a 24-hour delay.

“A charter flight operated by Virgin Atlantic, travelling from Dubai to Manchester, was delayed by 24 hours due to a minor technical issue,” it said. “Our airport teams assisted with overnight accommodation and all customers have since completed their journeys.”

Oceana is cruising roundtrip from Dubai  between January and mid-March, 2019 on 10-night voyages in the Arabian Gulf. It is P&O Cruises’ first cruise season in the region and has been met with high demand from British cruise tourists.

The cruise line has confirmed that Oceana will return for a longer season in the following 2019/2020 cruise season, sailing roundtrip from Dubai on 7, 10 and 14-night cruise itineraries between November, 2019 and March, 2020.

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