The popular ferry company said its survival was dependent on “making swift and significant changes now.” However, many crew members have defied orders and are refusing to leave their ships in protest.
Many passengers have been affected as sailings with P&O Ferries today were cancelled with little notice.
Speaking to BBC News, Simon Calder said: “It’s very, very confused. The position for people who are booked from here in Dover to Calais is apparently quite straightforward.
“They are being transferred to DFDS. I’m here at Dover and actually you can see three P&O ships tied up at what’s normally the cruise terminal.
“A long way away from the normal docks. Lots of trucks backing up on the road coming down the overpass from the White Cliffs to the Port.
“Passengers are getting through. They’re being rebooked onto DFDS. Irish Ferries also have sailings.
“But it’s the other routes where we’re seeing particular problems. Between Cairnryan in Scotland and Larne in Northern Ireland.
“This is absolutely the most frequent route between those two UK nations. People were told ‘ok, you can go to Stena Line, they’ll take you instead’.
“Stena Line said ‘hang on, we don’t have an agreement about this.’
“Agreements are perfectly common during times of disruption such as for bad weather but there wasn’t one set up.
“So passengers are being told ‘you’ve got to buy your ticket again’ and you can hopefully claim a refund from P&O.
“Very messy. And of course Liverpool to Dublin and Hull to Rotterdam, those are long distance, generally overnight routes and it’s a lot more difficult finding an alternative for those.”
Simon added that the announcement had taken him by surprise when it occurred this morning.
He said he had seen a severance letter offered to staff from P&O Ferries which said every employee should get three months worth of pay automatically.
Simon said: “The company said it’s also giving support in terms of finding employment elsewhere, possibly in the Merchant Marines sector. But very difficult times.”
The RMT union general secretary Mike Lynch said P&O Ferries’ action was “one of the most shameful acts in the history of British industrial relations.”
Michael Foote, personal finance expert and editor in chief of Quotegoat.com told Express.co.uk: “It’s distressing news for P & O Ferries employees and their families. Now is the time to check what redundancy rights you have and dig out any income or mortgage protection policies you hold.
“If you’ve got tickets booked with P & O Ferries and they don’t offer you alternative transport, it’s a good idea to contact your travel insurance company. Not all policies will cover you, but it’s worth reaching out.
“If you paid by debit card, you may be able to make a claim through your Mastercard and Visa Chargeback scheme.
“If you paid with a credit card, you may also be able to claim under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. You’ll need to have spent more than £100 on your tickets.
“If you booked with a tour operator and they are a member of ABTA, your money should be protected.”