Cyclone Winston in Fiji has impacted cruise itineraries of leading cruise lines and the first to announce changes was P&O Cruises Australia.
The cruise line’s two ships, Pacific Jewel and Pacific Pearl had port calls scheduled in Fiji and South Pacific during the week. After the cyclone news broke, the cruise line placed a post on their Facebook page, “We are very closely monitoring the strengthening Cyclone Winston weather system and making itinerary changes as necessary to avoid its worst effects.”
Pacific Jewel that was in Lifou on 20 February, cancelled her next port call to Mystery Island in Vanuatu.
“Pacific Pearl’s next cruise beginning in Auckland on 22 February, could also be affected by Cyclone Winston especially its scheduled calls to destinations in Fiji. Passengers have been advised that their itinerary might need to change to avoid the severe weather and that we will be seeking to go to alternative destinations if necessary,” stated P&O Cruises Australia’s Facebook page.
P&O’s local port agents in Auckland are assessing the situation and destinations on Pacific Pearl’s itinerary.
“Safety is always our first priority and we stress that Pacific Pearl will not travel in areas subject to severe weather or to destinations where there has been significant damage and the community is not ready to receive cruise visitors. We are also continuing to monitor the course of Cyclone Winston which remains active as a severe weather system.”
“Until the situation in Fiji becomes clearer, we are not in a position to finalise Pacific Pearl’s itinerary however it is still possible that we will be able to deliver two of the three calls to Fiji. We thank you for your patience and we feel sure you will understand that these are unusual circumstances,” stated P&O Cruises Australia’s Facebook post on 21 February.
P&O Cruiser, Em Illy posted on Facebook,” I can’t see how we could possibly make any ports on the Pearl trip – it is completely inappropriate to go to a disaster zone. They need help, not tourists.”
Royal Caribbean also announced itinerary changes for Voyager of the Seas and Legend of the Seas South Pacific cruises. Voyager of the Seas departed Sydney on 19 February 2016 and Legend of the Seas departed Brisbane 18 February 2016.
Royal Caribbean spokesperson told Cruise Passenger. “We are closely monitoring the progress of the storm system, which has necessitated changes to the itineraries. Instead of calling at Mystery Island, Voyager of the Seas’ itinerary will include a call to Brisbane, Queensland. Instead of calling at Mystery Island or Port Vila, Legend of the Seas’ itinerary will include a call to Champagne Bay, Vanuatu, and spend an additional day at sea.”
“All sailings will continue to embark as scheduled from Australia and we will advise our guests of any itinerary changes to future cruises as and when they occur, in order to provide them with a safe and comfortable holiday. ”
Cyclone Winston is being accorded as the strongest storm ever to hit Fiji. The category 5 tropical storm that wreaked destruction with winds at 230 km/hr and waves at 12 meters (40 ft) on 20 February, has led to closure of schools and a state of emergency declared for 30 days.