Pacific Pearl set sail to Vanuatu today laden with 60,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid to help rebuild the region devastated by Cyclone Pam.
The 10-night cruise to New Caledonia and Vanuatu will now double as a humanitarian aid mission carrying two full shipping containers including, 20,000 bottles of water, 200 sheets of corrugated iron, 700 packs of batteries, 3500 toothbrushes, 4000 tubes of toothpaste, clothing, children’s toys and four chainsaws to help clean-up the damaged island in the wake of Cyclone Pam.
What was particularly touching was that many of the 1800 passengers who boarded the Pearl this morning, had also done their bit to help rebuild Vanuatu by donating canned food, soap and toothpaste, breakfast cereal and shampoo.
Shelley Truesdale, a nurse from NSW South Coast who is on her first cruise with her mum Rhonda Wright, raided her pantry and spent about $30 at the supermarket to donate cans of baked beans and canned fruit.
“I just wanted to do something for the people of Vanuatu who have lost almost everything because of the cyclone. It has been absolutely horrendous for them,’’ she said.
Mrs Denise O’Donovan and her husband Graham from the Central Coast also donated toothpaste, canned tuna ands soap. This is the P&O fifth cruise for the O’Donovans
Tess Uebergang, a student from Melbourne is travelling with her Mum, Nikki on their first cruise and spent $40 buying soap, toothpaste and toiletries to help the people of Vanuatu.
“What has happened to Vanuatu is so sad – we felt we wanted to do something to help,’’ Nikki Uebergang said.
The Pearl will arrive in Port Vila in Vanuatu on Saturday and will make a brief call to unload the much needed long life milk, rice, sugar, flour, water and toiletries.
“Passengers will not be allowed to leave the boat,’’ Captain Dino Sagani said. “However, the 40 crew staff who are from Vanuatu will be allowed off the ship to meet with family members and make sure they are safe.’’
Pacific Pearl is the second ship to offload the shipment of humanitarian aid to Vanuatu. Sister ship, Brisbane-based Pacific Dawn will be the first ship to deliver the shipment of tarpaulins, tents bottled water and canned food and industrial mulchers when she calls at Port Vila on Wednesday.
Carnival Australia’s Carnival Legend made a brief call at Port Santo in Vanuatu last week while Carnival Spirit will depart Sydney on March 30 carrying another shipment of aid.
Georgia Tacey, state manager for Save the Children said: “The biggest issue for Vanuatu is that its infrastructure and roads have been destroyed, much of its agriculture is also destroyed.
“More than 166,000 people, including 82,000 children, have been badly affected by Cyclone Pam. There is no electricity, water, food and all communication is down. Hospitals are affected, we have to reconstruct 20 schools so that the children can get back to school – children are extremely at risk. With no clean water, there is a greater chance of disease like dysentery spreading. ‘’
Carnival Cruise has donated $300,000 to help Vanuatu rebuild including $150,000 from Carnival Corp chairman Micky Arrision who made a personal donation from his family foundation.