P&O Cruise deny boarding for disabled customer from Flitwick over form row

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A disabled man was left feeling “hopeless” after being denied entry to a cruise ship as the rest of his family made the painful decision to board without him.

Mike Ashton and his wife, daughter and mother-in-law had forked out thousands for a trip with P&O Cruises to Spain, Portugal and France earlier this month.

But when the family travelled to Southampton and were moments from boarding the Ventura, Mike was told he could embark but he’d have to leave his wheelchair behind.

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The 69-year-old cancer survivor from Flitwick told NationalWorld.com’s sister title Bedford Today that staff claimed he hadn't filled in the correct form about his wheelchair – but Mike says he never received it.

He said: “P&O said they had sent me emails twice – but I’ve checked it online 30 times. I said I have done everything right."

Mike had even made the same booking – a wheelchair accessible room – the year before with no problems. Both times, he’d made the booking by phone and still wasn’t told anything.

Mike says P&O staff claimed because they didn't know he was bringing a wheelchair, they didn't have the staff to accommodate him if there was a problem on board.

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He said: "P&O said just because we booked an accessible cabin doesn't mean we have a wheelchair. They have to allocate a person for the chair whether there is an emergency or not. They were willing to let me on board but without the wheelchair."

And it was at this point, the family had to make the unenviable decision to board the Ventura without Mike or risk losing the price of their cruise.

He said: “So I said goodbye to my crying daughter. I felt humiliated and embarrassed. I felt guilty. They made me feel more disabled and I felt discriminated against. I felt hopeless and very lonely. If I couldn't have driven I would have been stranded."

A spokesman for P&O Cruises said: “We are so sorry this happened to Mr Ashton and he was not able to board. The on-board needs questionnaire is on My P&O Cruises (our online portal) to be completed – it is not sent out by email. It is also very clear on the front page of My P&O Cruises that this is to be completed if needed.

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“If Mr Ashton was booked in an accessible cabin, he or his agent will have been sent emails prompting him to login to My P&O Cruises to complete the questionnaire. We do advise on our website that wheelchairs/mobility scooters must be declared or they will be denied boarding. It is also within clause 21 of the booking conditions.”

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