P&O online forums have been rife with debate after the New Caledonia riots led to the rescheduling of several cruises.

Many are complaining of finding their cruises have too many sea days due to ports not being replaced with alternatives. There are other complaints, such as the port taxes not being refunded from the cruise fare. 

In some senses, it’s a common cruise complaint. The nature of the holiday means that ports can always be shuffled around, replaced, or aborted at the last minute, whether due to weather, civil unrest, or any range of factors. Furthermore, the terms and conditions of any cruise will allow the cruise line the right to change ports without the expectation of compensation or refunds.

But does this mean cruisers shouldn’t have the right to feel aggrieved? 

Maria Baker posted on a Facebook group: “Is anyone going on the Pacific Adventure from Sydney to Fiji and feeling annoyed that there is no substitute stop for Noumea? Obviously, we can’t go to Noumea and that’s beyond P&O’s control, but to just make it another sea day so there are only three stops on a 12-night cruise is a bit rich in my opinion!”

Shandi Saccu also wrote: “Not impressed by P&O, we are due to go on our cruise on the 26th and now have lost two stops, you could have given us two extra days at one of our stops or found another island to go to. No longer looking forward to a 12-day cruise with only three stops.”

The posts drew out other disappointed cruisers, such as Danielle Main, who has sunk more than $7000 into her holiday. 

“I fully understand the disappointment, I leave on the 30th of July with a combined family of six, and we’ve been paying this family holiday off for more than 18 months. We have gone without so much to do this trip. Five out of the six of us have never left the country. 

“It has cost more than $7000 so far.”

Between the two posts, there were nearly 1000 comments, many feeling the cruisers are “whinging” and should feel lucky enough to be cruising anyway, and others arguing the cruisers are right to feel aggrieved or should at least be offered compensation. 

A South Pacific cruise sails in the distance but cancels after New Caledonia riots.
Should cruisers feel aggrieved?

The situation of the New Caledonia riots

  • Unrest in New Caledonia has led to some P&O sailings in the South Pacific cutting back on port calls. The itineraries have more sea days, leading to cruisers feeling aggrieved. For example, the cruiser above Shandi, has gone from a 12-day cruise with five ports, to now three. 


  • The logistics of organising replacement ports last minute can be incredibly difficult for cruise lines. 
  • Some cruise insurance policies will offer compensation for missed ports on a cruise. 
  • Currently, no port taxes or portion of the fare have been refunded. 
  • Cruises onboard recent cruises that were diverted have reported losing the ports of Noumea and Lifou, and spending one extra day at Mystery Island. They also reported being offered $50 per person of onboard credit as compensation. 

Cruisers accused of “whinging”

Many cruisers commented incredulously at the idea that the cruisers with the altered itineraries felt upset and had hopes of new or extended port stays.

Dale Baker wrote: “Can you just imagine the logistical nightmare it would be to accommodate several large cruise ships all needing alternative stops?

“Only one ship at a time can stop in certain islands etc, I’m baffled by people’s expectations.”

Steve Johnston wrote: “They can’t just organise a port at the drop of a hat. Far out there’s some whingers on here.”

David O’Donnell wrote: “You people who think you can just pop into a different port have no idea on the logistics required to make that happen. The permits and fees and laws and regulations and insurance and route planning, pilots, navigation, journey management plans, the list just goes on. If you’re not happy, cancel the cruise and don’t go.”

Some cruisers were even more extreme in their comments: “I wish P&O would just cruise to Noumea and leave all the whingers there and see how they cope with the civil unrest.”

A sunset in Noumea.
Noumea is unlikely to be visited for the foreseeable future due to the New Caledonia riots.

Cruisers share sympathy and advocate for port tax refund

Arlene Marsden wrote that she understands why the cruisers feel upset and believes more compensation should be offered due to the cancellations after the New Caledonia riots.

“I find it hard to see why so many who are not on the cruise are so critical of those who are disappointed that their planned trip has been changed at that last minute.

“No one has ever said that we think it wise to go to Noumea nor have I seen anyone show anything but concern for those in New Caledonia at this time. However I have seen lots of nastiness targeted at those who ask why there is no alternative offered particularly when those already at sea or setting off soon after it started were found alternatives at such short notice.

“Given P&O are not even refunding the port taxes it seems that they are profiting from the dire situation but I’m sure you’ll all think that perfectly acceptable as long as your not the ones it affects.”

Leah Poole wrote in support of the aggrieved cruiser Shandi.

“I’m sure Shandi has worked hard for their money and spent time and effort planning their holiday, which has now changed significantly!! I would be pretty upset too.”

What do you think about the cancellations due to the New Caledonia riots?

Do cruisers deserve more compensation and protection for missed ports? Or are missed ports simply a part of the cruise and cruisers should suck it up and take it?

Leave a comment below.