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P&O cancels Gulf trips over Iran tensions

THOUSANDS of British tourists will miss out on cruises after P&O cancelled trips in the Gulf of Oman due to rising tensions with Iran.

Its 11-day voyages on the Oceana between Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, will be halted from October to next March. The P&O ship, which has a Union Jack flag on its front, is to be rerouted to the Canaries.

Sources said up to 18,000 customers would be affected and they would be fully refunded by P&O, which is owned by the US firm Carnival.

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: ‘The increased tension in the region, highlighted by the attacks on tankers in the Straits and the detention of a British-flagged tanker by the Iranian authorities, means as a British company flying the Red Ensign it is not advisable for us to maintain our planned Dubai and Arabian Gulf programme this winter season.

‘We have therefore taken the unusual step of withdrawing Oceana from the region.’

A P&O insider said the firm had asked for volunteers to man phones to answer calls from disappointed customers this weekend as ‘a lot of people will be affected’. The liner’s summer season is in the Med.