Two blind women from West Sussex, Pam May and Jennie Bailie, have publicly expressed their distress and humiliation after being escorted off a P&O Cruises ship due to ‘health and safety’ concerns. The incident, which occurred last month, has sparked a debate about the rights of individuals with disabilities and the responsibilities of service providers.
Pam and Jennie told ITV news they had booked their holiday through a London travel agency. They claim that P&O Cruises was fully aware of their visual impairments at the time of booking and had agreed to accommodate them for the holiday departing from Southampton.
However, upon boarding the Ventura, one of P&O’s cruise ships, the situation took an unexpected turn. The crew handed them a letter citing ‘health and safety’ reasons and instructed them to disembark. The women were left feeling humiliated and upset, comparing their treatment to that of criminals.
“It was humiliating. We actually felt like criminals,” Pam said. “We were standing there and having to argue why we had the right to travel, and go on holiday on our own, the same as everybody else.”
Jennie added to Pam’s sentiments, describing the experience as “totally and utterly embarrassing, and very very upsetting.”
The holiday booking was handled by TUI, who had liaised with P&O Cruises on their behalf. P&O Cruises had assured TUI that most of their ships were equipped with Braille cabin numbers, lift buttons, and menus to accommodate visually impaired guests. Furthermore, Pam and Jennie were promised an orientation tour upon their arrival on board.
In response to the incident, a P&O Cruises spokesperson told ITV, “We are so sorry that these guests were unable to travel with us and we will be offering them a full refund for their holiday including any travel expenses incurred.”