Cruise lines open their hearts and wallets to help Australia’s bushfire victims, with donation pledges and fundraising efforts from their guests and crews.

Hundreds of thousands have gone to appeals like the Australian Red Cross, and Carnival – in line with its Fun Ship persona – held charity water slide rides.

The line raised an additional $15,200 with their guests on Carnival Spirit and Splendor as their cruise directors Lee Mason and Chloe Loddo plunge down the Green Lightning and Green Thunder waterslides in ballgowns.

Many cruise lines have come together to support disaster relief efforts, including expedition lines and river cruise lines.

Carnival Australia

Carnival Australia pledged $350,000 to support the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund as a result of the devastating bushfires.

Carnival Australia is the parent company of P&O Cruises Australia, Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Cunard and Holland America Line all of which have ships based year round in Australia or home ported here on extended seasonal deployments.

This is in addition to the $50,000 that P&O Cruises Australia and its guests combined to donate to the St Vincent de Paul Society at the end of last year to support those affected by the bushfires in NSW and QLD at the time.

Micky Arison, chairman of Carnival Corporation & plc has pledged AUD$1.5 million through his family foundation, Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation, to focus on the specific back-to-school needs of children badly affected by Australia’s disastrous bushfire season. UNICEF Australia, a trusted champion for children, will receive AUD$1.2 million of the contribution. The family foundation will also support a separate project to help Australia’s unique wildlife as a result of the fires.

This takes donations to bushfire relief overall to a total of AUD$1.9 million.

“Our cruise lines carried hundreds of thousands of Aussies and international guests on voyages this summer, and this gesture is a sign of our solidarity with the local community,” Carnival Australia President Sture Myrmell said.

“As a cruise shipping organisation with close ties to Australian communities developed over many years, we have been shocked by the devastation from this ongoing disaster.

“Our cruise lines are contributing to the Australian Red Cross’ Disaster Relief and Recovery work because of the organisation’s experience in dealing with the effects of natural disasters and its national reach.”

Cruise & Maritime Voyages

Cruise & Maritime Voyages has also re-opened onboard donations to the Australian Red Cross for bushfire relief due to guest requests when the Vasco da Gama was on standby for Kangaroo Island evacuation on January 2.

In their first fundraising efforts in December, the line matched dollar for dollar for all donations and a total of $10,070 was donated to the Australian Red Cross.

As a show of continued solidarity for those still battling to protect their homes, families and livelihoods, Cruise & Maritime Voyages are also pledging $10 from every booking made during January to the Australian Red Cross to support their aid and relief efforts in affected areas.

Australian Red Cross Acting CEO Noel Clement said in a statement: “With so many Australians affected by emergencies this summer, this donation will help us give support to people as they recover, not just now in the immediate aftermath but in the months and years ahead.

“This donation could help provide emergency assistance, deliver recovery programs, help people and communities prepare for disasters, train, equip and coordinate volunteers, and much more. So thank you, we are truly overwhelmed by the outpouring of support.”

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings which operates Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands has also committed $250,000 to the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund.

“We are saddened by the devastation caused by the ongoing bushfires in Australia,” said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. “Our $250,000 donation to the Australian Red Cross will go directly to relief and recovery efforts for those affected by these historic fires.”

Since July 2019, Australian Red Cross teams have responded to 30 bushfire related emergencies and supported over 18,600 people, through the efforts of more than 1,590 volunteers and staff. The organisation has provided support to displaced people in more than 69 evacuation and recovery centres and is also providing emergency grants to help people who have lost homes in the fires cover immediate needs.

“The cruise industry joins Australians in thanking firefighters, volunteers and other emergency services personnel for their dedication. We hope for a swift recovery in affected communities and our thoughts are with those who have suffered losses during these tragic events,” says a CLIA spokesperson.


On January 22, expedition line Hurtigruten also launched their $250,00 Australian Bushfire Appeal where all proceeds of the bookings of 40 cabins on board will be donated to support bushfire recovery.

“The impact of these bushfires is unprecedented. It is heartbreaking to witness the loss of life, as well as the devastation of habitat and wildlife on such a scale. We believe it is important that we all take part in the global and local effort to support Australia’s recovery,” says Damian Perry, Managing Director Hurtigruten Asia-Pacific.

The 40 cabins range from standard to suite and all proceeds will be distributed by the Hurtigruten Foundation to support environmental projects, animal rescue and sustainability initiatives and provide direct grants to relevant local agencies.

The cabins are spread across seven different itineraries and mostly sailing between June and December 2020. See the full list here.

River cruise lines

River cruise lines have also stepped forward with donations. The APT Travel Group has donated $100,000 towards Australian bushfire relief efforts via the group’s One Tomorrow Charitable Fund.

Any additional money raised through staff activities will also be match funded.

The Scenic Group has also pledged $500,000. The donation will be allocated to several charities and state organizations, including the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Appeal, the Salvation Army Emergency Services; state, country and rural rire services and WIRES.

No frills budget river cruise line Teeming River Cruises’ American founders also have chipped in to help.

“Our hearts break for you as we watch from afar the devastating brushfires raging through your beautiful country. Our many Teeming River Cruises’ guests from Australia feel like family to us. We’ve loved cruising alongside you and consider you not only passengers but true ‘mates’, “says Jeff & Gina Paglialonga.

“Please know your TeemingRC Family is praying for you and sending good thoughts from across the pond. Also to show our support, we have donated $500 to the NSW RURAL FIRE SERVICE in New South Wales assisting families of firefighters who have been killed in the fires and $200 to the WWF-Australia to help save wildlife and restore lost forests after the fires have cleared.”

Affected itineraries

The fires changed some cruise itineraries to Eden and Kangaroo Island.  Holland America Line diverted Noordam away from Eden to make an unscheduled arrival in Burnie. She was originally set to arrive in Eden on Friday January 3.

Oceania Cruises’s Regatta will also continue to bypass Eden January 7 and proceed directly to Melbourne. The next ship scheduled to call at Eden is on January 24, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Jewel.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic wildfires occurring in Australia. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected. We are closely monitoring the situation. At this time, there are no planned itinerary changes or impact to our available shore excursions. As always, our top priority is the safety and security of our guests and crew,” says a spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, parent company of Oceania Cruises.

Another affected port is Kangaroo Island. Cruise & Maritime Voyages Vasco da Gama cancelled her call to Penneshaw, Kangaroo Island on January 4. The ship will homeport in Fremantle for the rest of the Australasian season, so there are no further changes to the itineraries planned at this stage.

Princess Cruises’ Golden Princess also cancelled its call to Kangaroo Island on January 7. Instead, the ship stayed overnight at Port Lincoln.

Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth didn’t proceed with her scheduled call to Kangaroo Island on January 8.

“We know that tourism is particularly vital to Kangaroo Island and agree with the South Australian Tourism Commission’s sentiment that we look forward to Sun Princess making a successful call on January 19,” says the line.

“Australia is and remains a safe cruising destination. We are vigilant and working in very closely with authorities. The safety and security of guests is always paramount but the objective is to also ensure we don’t put pressure on specific destinations that are dealing with localised bushfire situations as part of the wider bushfire emergency,” says Carnival Australia in a statement.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) says that cruise lines are monitoring the situation closely and if required can adjust itineraries to avoid affected areas. To date, only minor changes have been necessary to a small number of cruises visiting specific parts of south-eastern Australia.

“The country’s major cities and the majority of its coastline remain open to visitors and most cruises are continuing unaffected and as scheduled,” says a CLIA spokesperson.