Mark O’Keefe had been on a 10 day cruise heading to Bali when he was spotted flicking his cigarette over the side of the boat by a P&O security officer.
Mark’s daughter Courtney said that her father “had maybe two drags because the weather was horrendous – he butted it out, and without thinking, he flicked it. He instantly regretted it and apologised.”
According to the O’Keefe’s, Mark was then told to return to his cabin and informed that if he returned he would face no further action.
However, the next morning he had a letter ordering him to a meeting in which he was told he would have to disembark the ship.
Courtney said that her father was told by the Captain that he had to leave: “no letting my dad apologise, no option of cutting him off at the bar, no giving him a fine, nothing.” He was then taken to an island where he boarded an aircraft to take him to Denpasar and told to find his own way home.
The incident caused concern for the O’Keefe’s because of her father’s condition: “My dad is 58 in a few weeks – he’s ex-army, SAS, with cancer and cholesterol problems – and my mum handles all his medication.”
“My mum couldn’t leave with him, because they scrimped and saved every penny for this holiday, so they couldn’t afford the two tickets home.”
Do you think this was a little too strict? Should they have made an exception for him as he made a mistake, or do you agree with the smoking policies on cruises today? Have your say in our poll!
When asked about the incident, P&O Australia’s spokesperson David Jones said: “The issue of fire safety on board is of highest priority. The mandatory passenger safety muster on embarkation includes an explicit warning about the dangers associated with disposing of cigarettes over the side. A lighted cigarette can be drawn into the ship posing a serious risk to the ship and the safety of passengers and crew.”
Mark has now returned to his home in Perth whilst his wife (still on-board the cruise ship) has refused to leave her room until the ship docks.
British guests travelling on P&O’s British fleet are allowed to smoke in dedicated areas and are not allowed to smoke on their cabin or on their balcony. They are similarly told not to flick cigarettes over the side of the vessel.
What do you think of the news? Do you think Mark should have been asked to leave the ship? Do you think smoking on the ship should be allowed at all? Let us know in the comments below…