A UK cruiser encountered a hairy problem that “ruined” her cruise vacation aboard P&O Cruise’s Britannia when she required several hair treatments to return her locks to their original shade.

Despite the difficulties, however, the passenger has already booked another vacation with the cruise line, which may call into question how authentic her grievances truly are.

Chris Adams set sail with her elderly mother aboard P&O Cruises’ 143,730-gross-ton, Royal-class Britannia in May for a 14-night Northern European and Scandinavian itinerary, what was to have been a dream vacation for both women.

According to the Southern Daily Echo, the 55-year-old Adams visited the ship’s spa on the first sea day for a hair analysis, which revealed that her hair was dry at the roots. Adams then spent £330 (approximately $400 USD) on five different rehydration products.

After using the first product that evening before dinner, Adams noticed a purple tinge to her hair that had not previously been present. Early the next morning, she returned to the spa and spoke with a stylist who attempted to correct to discoloration with a toner treatment.

P&O Britannia Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: P.Cartwright / Shutterstock)

That second treatment did in fact remove the purple, but turned Adams’ hair a brown shade rather than her former blonde coloration. After a bleaching treatment, her hair was orange, and only after a third treatment did her hair return to blonde.

“I came to tears. I was so stressed by the whole experience. I came on Britannia to relax but it turned to a nightmare,” Adams told local news reporters. “It was a total disaster that ruined my holiday.”

Adams claims her hair became further dried out from the multiple onboard treatments and she even has blisters on her scalp. She is waiting to see a dermatologist about the condition.

The exact products Adams used have not been disclosed, nor whether or not she used the products as directed. It is also possible that the new products may have interacted in some unexpected way with other treatments she had already had done to her hair prior to the cruise, or with other products she regularly uses.

Adams claims to be a “qualified ex-hairdresser” but her credentials have not been noted. It is also unclear why she may have chosen to use unfamiliar products, or why she was interested in the hair analysis in the first place, as presumably she would have already known of any potential difficulties and the best treatments for her own hair.

P&O Britannia Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Nandani Bridglal / Shutterstock)

No details have been released about why Adams has waited until October to see a dermatologist about scalp blistering, considering the cruise in question was a May 2023 sailing. Legal action, of course, can take months to resolve and may be a factor in the timing.

A P&O Cruises spokesperson noted that the matter was resolved to the traveler’s satisfaction.

In fact, Adams has confirmed that she has already booked a Christmas sailing with P&O Cruises, in part because of a discount offered as a result of this incident. This is despite her claiming the earlier experience was a “cruise from hell” and having vowed not to set foot on one of the cruise line’s ships again.

On most cruise lines, the spa facilities are not run by the cruise line, but rather are outsourced to independent companies.

All experienced cruise travelers are familiar with the occasionally high-pressure sales tactics onboard, particularly when “free” tours, tasters, analyses, and seminars are loaded with sales pitches for related – and pricey – products.

Even regular spa treatments such as massages, facials, or scrubs are often paired with sales offers that will ostensibly help travelers keep up the spa results once they return home.

Spa treatments can be an amazing way to relax onboard and to really get into the at-ease vibe of a cruise, but all travelers should practice caveat emptor – buyer beware – for all treatments and product purchases.

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