What should I do if I've a P&O Ferries booking and am I entitled to any refund?
P&O Ferries has made its crew members redundant in a major announcement that has halted sailings and seen all its ships return to port.
The shock move is causing untold disruption as services are upended and regular travel routes to and from Europe are disrupted for both freight and domestic travellers.
But what does it mean for customers who've booked and paid to travel with the ferry company on one of its many sailings? Here's what we know so far:
What has happened this morning?
P&O Ferries has terminated the contracts of hundreds of staff , with the company telling its affected employees it has lost up to £200 million in the last two years. This morning (Thursday) all ships and their crews were ordered to return to port and await the announcement, leading to disruption for many travellers and those using its freight services.
A spokesperson for the company said: “P&O Ferries plays a critical role in keeping trade flowing, supply chains moving, and connecting families and friends across the North and Irish seas and the English Channel. We have been at the heart of this service for years and we are committed to serving these vital routes.
"However, in its current state, P&O Ferries is not a viable business. We have made a £100m loss year on year, which has been covered by our parent DP World. This is not sustainable. Our survival is dependent on making swift and significant changes now. Without these changes there is no future for P&O Ferries."
Which routes do P&O run?
Alongside its flagship Dover to Calais route, P&O Ferries also runs sailings from Liverpool to Dublin, between Hull and Rotterdam and Cairnryan to Larne.
All are understood to been affected by today's developments and there is significant disruption on each timetable because ships and staff were stopped from working as of this morning.
What about customers travelling today?
Travellers with an existing booking who have paid to use P&O Ferries today (Thursday) are being told to travel to the port as normal, where alternative arrangements will be made for them.
In a tweet earlier this morning P&O Ferries said: "Regretfully P&O Ferries are unable to run for the next few hours. Our Port Teams will guide you and travel will be arranged via an alternative operator. We apologise for the inconvenience this will have on your journey plans."
In a further tweet issued at lunchtime, passengers travelling on the carrier's Dover route were being advised to make their way to DFDS check-in booths.
However travel writer Simon Calder tweeted that company Stena Line reportedly had no arrangements in place to carry passengers on Irish Sea routes and so the advice at the time there was for travellers there to buy a new ticket in order to get to their destination and then claim back the cost of their original fare with P&O.
What does it mean for future bookings?
For those with plans to travel with P&O Ferries in the coming weeks or months, the situation currently remains somewhat unclear.
Customers using the Dover and Calais routes in the next few days however, have been told in a tweet from P&O Ferries Updates that its ferries will be unable to run but they should travel to the port as normal.
The P&O Ferries website - as of 1.30pm this afternoon - remained open for bookings albeit red warnings above the page alert potential customers and those using the booking pages to significant disruption on its existing sailing routes.
In its announcement to staff P&O Ferries said that "vessels going forward will primarily crewed by a third party crew provider" but it remains unclear whether ships will run to the same sailing timetables and routes as before or whether further changes will be made as the company continues to re-structure its business.
Can P&O Ferries customers get a refund?
P&O Ferries has not issued any details about refunds as a result of today's disruption and continues to advise customers booked to use its services to still go to the port they're due to be sailing from as normal and alternative arrangements will be made for them to ensure they can still travel.
On its website, under 'delays or cancelled sailings' but unrelated to today's issues, the terms and conditions, which were updated on January 18, 2021, state: "We will refund the Total P&O Ferries Fare of the affected inbound and/or outbound crossing if we cannot ship you at all with us or arrange a suitable alternative ferry crossing, or if you do not wish to take any alternative journey offered by us.
"If your departure is delayed and your journey will no longer serve any purpose, having regard to your original travel plan, a refund of the full ticket price shall be considered upon submission of reasonable supporting evidence."