Nurse vows to 'never ever' go on P&O cruise again after bed bug claim

Corinne McIvor, 39, claims little was done to stop the spread of bed bugs on her recent P&O cruise.

Corinne McIvor, 39, smiles with the Pacific Encounter behind her before she was allegedly bitten by bed bugs (left). An image of her cabin with a glass of wine and beer opened on the table (right).
Corinne McIvor, 39, claims she was bitten by bed bugs in her cabin while traveling on the Pacific Encounter cruise ship this month. Source: Supplied

A nurse has sworn to never go on a P&O cruise again after she claims bed bugs "completely ruined" her holiday and left her hundreds of dollars out of pocket in a desperate attempt to prevent the insects from spreading into her home.

Earlier this month, Corinne McIvor, 39, spent a week travelling to different Pacific Islands from Brisbane on the Pacific Encounter. After sleeping in her cabin for several nights, the cruise enthusiast said she felt her "skin crawling" and woke up to tiny bites on her neck, chest and legs, with staff urging her to visit the cruise's doctor.

"The doctor said, 'Oh my god, I'm so sorry. The bites are in a classic bed bug pattern'," McIvor told Yahoo News. "I asked her outright if this is something she's seen on the ship before and she said 'yeah'."

The $150 medical fee McIvor was initially told she would need to pay to see the doctor was waived after the physician allegedly confirmed it was a case of bed bugs. McIvor said she was told she had to immediately return to her cabin where two cruise workers would be waiting to take her belongings and fumigate them.

Red bite marks on her legs (left and middle) and on her side (right).
The nurse claimed she suffered bed bug bites on her neck, chest and legs after sleeping in her cabin. Source: Supplied

McIvor was initially pleased with the response from staff, with one worker giving her and her partner instructions from the door of their room while they packed their belongings inside.

However, all feelings of "validation" changed when another staff member allegedly didn't take the same degree of caution, entering the room and dumping their clothes and belongings onto the infested bed before carrying it to the "other side of the ship" to their next room.

"That's how they spread ... and they spread like wildfire," McIvor said.

Their dirty clothes were laundered free of charge, however, the nurse claims she saw no other protocols followed in attempt to minimise the spread of bed bugs. The couple said they were also given no instructions on how to avoid exposing other passengers or their home post-cruise.

"It was a s**t show. The bed bugs totally ruined the cruise because of the anxiety. And it's embarrassing, I know it's not about someone being dirty but you do associate it with that," McIvor told Yahoo.

The couple stripped in their garage as soon as they got home and spent money on laundry and dry cleaning services to get their clothes properly sanitised. They have since decided to discard the new suitcases they bought ahead of the cruise and McIvor also purchased a steamer.

"I know that it sounds really over the top but this is how it spreads. I'm a public health nurse and I know it's a public health issue," McIvor said. "Passengers have no idea this is going on."

The P&O's Pacific Encounter cruise ship in the ocean.
P&O Cruises Australia said it 'has strict and robust health protocols on its cruise ships'. Source: P&O Cruises Australia

After reaching out to P&O Cruises Australia to discuss the issue, she claims the case of bed bugs has since been denied, with the waiving of the $150 medical fee allegedly called a "gesture of goodwill" by P&O in an email.

"Money is tight, people are looking forward to their cruise and spend a lot of time money to go on one. Then they get bed bugs and are gaslit … I'm not a liar," McIvor said. She is calling for firm protocols to be implemented on cruise liners and is seeking compensation for her trip, confessing she will "never ever" go on a P&O cruise again.

When Yahoo News approached P&O Cruises Australia about the woman's bed bug claims, the company did not directly answer, instead saying it "has strict and robust health protocols on its cruise ships".

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

Yahoo understands the room where McIvor stayed was inspected and cleaned and no bed bugs were found. It also understands there were no complaints of bugs in that room on the previous voyage or since.

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