Aussie cruise passenger 'disgusted' by P&O bed bug 'denial'

P&O have declined to directly comment on the passengers' claims about the Pacific Encounter.

Corinne McIvor smiles before boarding the P&O Pacific Encounter cruise ship (left) and Monica Robertson holds up her elbow showing many red bites on her skin (right).
Corinne McIvor and Monica Robertson both claim they were bitten by bed bugs on the P&O Pacific Encounter cruise ship. Source: Supplied

P&O Cruises Australia is in hot water over allegations that one of its ships has a bed bug infestation. Two passengers who travelled on separate journeys on the Pacific Encounter recently claimed to Yahoo News that despite being covered in "itchy" bite marks while on holiday, the company denied there was a problem.

Corinne McIvor was on the ship for a week in May. A couple of days into her trip, the nurse woke up one morning to find marks on her skin and visited the ship's doctor, who she says verbally confirmed they were from bed bugs.

The passenger, who was moved into another cabin, told Yahoo that to her disgust, P&O later allegedly denied the red blotches were from bed bugs, and she was forced to spend hundreds of dollars to stop them from spreading into her home.

Monica Robertson pictured smiling before the bed bugs issue on a P&O cruise liner.
Monica Robertson also claimed to have found bed bugs in her cabin on the Pacific Encounter. Source: Supplied

Frustrated, Corrine searched for answers online and came across Monica Robertson. The Brisbane woman also claimed to have found bed bugs in her cabin on the Pacific Encounter when she travelled in April. And like Corrine, she alleged P&O denied her claim. However, in her case, she says cleaning services were not offered and neither was a cabin change.

"If they admit there is a problem, they open themselves up to more people coming forward and it would come down to the whole ship needing to be fumigated, which means they'll lose revenue," Robertson told Yahoo News on Tuesday, accusing the cruise company of burying its head in the sand.

After being contacted by Yahoo News, P&O Cruises Australia reaffirmed previous comments that there are “strict and robust health protocols on its cruise ships”, however, it declined to respond to direct questions about the passengers' alleged experiences with bed bugs on the Pacific Encounter.

"The comfort, health and safety of our guests is of upmost importance to us," a spokesperson said. "Just like hotels, we have rigorous cleaning processes in place to address and resolve any issues that may arise".

Robertson's chin (left) and McIvor's stomach and leg (middle and right) with angry red bite marks on their skin.
McIvor and Robertson both claim P&O denied the marks on their skin were from bed bugs despite being sent numerous images. Source: Supplied

A consumer expert has criticised the statement P&O provided to Yahoo, describing it as "disgraceful".

"Having bed bugs in the first place is disgusting, let's be honest," Adam Glezer from Consumer Champion said. "But not moving the customers or doing a deep clean straight after the mention of bed bugs was their second mistake and then denying the bed bugs, when there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary, was their next."

An image of the Pacific Encounter in the ocean (left) and five bed bugs Robertson claims she found in her cabin (right).
P&O has allegedly denied the passengers' bite marks were caused by bed bugs. Source: Supplied

"The company is just digging itself a bigger hole… in my opinion, denying it's mistakes shows the character of the company," he added. "We want acknowledgement from P&O that they are bed bugs, rather than denial, which they have done consistently in these two cases."

McIvor told Yahoo she hasn't received any compensation after flagging the issue, but the $150 fee for the medical appointment on the ship was waived.

Robertson was offered a $377 refund and $750 credit to be used on a future holiday, however, she declined both after vowing she will "definitely not go on a P&O cruise again".

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