I posted recently about the change of itinerary on our cruise next month. La Spezia is out, replaced by Livorno. Among the effects of this was the cancellation of our pre-booked excursion, “Beautiful Cinque Terre”. Except I’m now told that it isn’t cancelled after all.
We heard about the itinerary change from a post on the Cruise Critic P&O forum – this would have been on about 5 August. I checked the P&O website and the Cruise Personaliser and at first it seemed that the excursion would go ahead, from Livorno. However it was expected to last for 9 1/2 hours – Livorno being about an hour’s drive further away from the Cinque Terre region than La Spezia – and that caused us some concern as we had also booked a meal in Sindhu at 7:45 that same evening. We didn’t fancy rushing straight back from the extended excursion to Sindhu.
Then last weekend (7th/8th August) I checked again and found that the Beautiful Cinque Terre excursion was no longer appearing in the list of excursions from Livorno in my Cruise Personaliser. So I called P&O Customer Services and they confirmed that a) the excursion was cancelled, and b) I’d receive a refund ‘by the end of the week’. We then went ahead and selected another excursion for that day, this time a shorter one, and booked and paid for it via Cruise Personaliser.
By Friday (14 August) I hadn’t received the refund so I called P&O Customer Services again. The first issue that arose was that I was told that because we had booked the cruise through a TA we would have to ask them to obtain the refund for us. That the excursion itself had been booked direct with P&O via the online Cruise Personaliser didn’t matter, it seemed. So I called Iglu and eventually spoke to Sam who promised to call me back when it was all sorted out. Well, he did call me back – indeed, he was very helpful throughout a very confusing session – but not to report that it was sorted out. Instead, he told me that P&O were now pointing out that I had two excursions booked for the same slot, the original one and the replacement. In short, they were saying that the Beautiful Cinque Terre excursion wasn’t cancelled at all.
“Of course it is” I blustered; “Give me a couple of minutes to check my Cruise Personaliser again”. But when I did so, lo and behold! there it was back in the programme. Except that, the more I looked at it, the more unlikely it seemed. The starting point still appeared to be La Spezia; the description talked about returning to La Spezia; and the duration had been reduced (to 7 hours) instead of being increased as a result of the additional distance. Still, there it was, and I felt myself to be more than a bit mortified. The upshot was that we all agreed that I’d better cancel the replacement excursion and leave the first one in place, and that was done.
One other thing – when I check the excursion on Friday I saw that it was listed as Sold Out, which it hadn’t been before. I’m now wondering if they are actually going to tender us into La Spezia from the ship as it cruises past that port (we’re coming from the north) and indeed run the excursion from La Spezia. Then the ship can recover the tender(s) and proceed to Livorno. We would then do the excursion as originally planned, except that at the end we will be coached to Livorno instead of to the quayside at La Spezia. All speculation, of course. I’m quite intrigued now as to how this will all work out.