Princess Cruises has left the South Pacific off its early 2022 season lineup as it concedes that COVID restrictions will prevent it from cruising to some planned destinations. But the line has promised to increase its visits when itineraries allow.

Instead, Princess is redirecting its South Pacific cruises to different parts of Australia or New Zealand.

The move, inevitable as favourites like Fiji battle rising covid cases and the region is wracked by debate over how to get supplies of vaccine, will be a bitter blow to the island economies.

A Princess spokesperson told Cruise Passenger:  “We have simply taken a pragmatic approach to circumstances where cruise ships are prevented from calling at South Pacific destinations and that it is not certain when this position will change.

“For clarification we’ve only cancelled South Pacific cruises through to the end of March. We have a cruise to Fiji, Tahiti and Hawaii still on sale departing in April. And of course we have every intention of again increasing our visits to the South Pacific destinations when this is again possible, as you’ll see with our plans for the start of the spring summer 2022 season.”

The changes to proposed itineraries :

  • Royal Princess was to have left on Jan 2, 2022, cruising from Sydney to Fiji. This voyage will now visit New Zealand instead, with voyages on 18 and 30 January also doing the same. 
  • There are two Sapphire Princess itineraries that depart 28 February, and 2 March, 2022 and they were set to visit New Caledonia and Vanuatu. These voyages will instead now explore Queensland. 
  • Coral Princess’ January 27 itinerary is also altered. Originally meant to go from Brisbane to Papua New Guinea, it will now explore Tasmania. 

Passengers will still have their original bookings in place and should receive their updated confirmation tomorrow, according to Princess.

Any shore excursions for cancelled ports will be refunded and other extras such as transfers, do not need to be rebooked. 

Passengers will have the option to receive a refund if they aren’t satisfied with the new itineraries. 

Earlier, Norwegian Cruise Line revealed itineraries to the South Pacific, Asia and New Zealand which will be sailing from 2022 and marking its commitment to the market.

And these itineraries, on the Norwegian Spirit and Norwegian Sun, are designed for Australians looking to cruise closer to home.

“Australian and New Zealand travellers are fortunate to have access to the delights of the Asia Pacific region right here on our doorstep, including some of the world’s most stunning ports. Our range of immersive itineraries allow guests to explore and experience the best our region has to offer, including these five must-see destinations,” said Ben Angell, Norwegian Cruise Line Vice President and Managing Director, APAC.

“We are delighted to have two ships sailing throughout the Asia Pacific in 2022 and beyond; Norwegian Spirit and Norwegian Sun. From snorkelling with stingrays in the turquoise lagoons of Bora Bora, to discovering the temples of Kyoto or the local markets of Mystery Island, our innovative, elegant and intimate ships – with capacity for just 2,000 guests – will take you to true bucket-list locations that offer a wide variety of unique and memorable experiences.”

The Norwegian Spirit has undergone a massive refurbishment with new public spaces and updated state rooms while the Norwegian Sun will spend her first season in the region.

Mountain Fuji and sea from Izu city Shizuoka prefecture , Japan

Some of the highlight itineraries include:

Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Norwegian Spirit will head on 14-day South Pacific: Fiji, Bora Bora & Moorea to Papeete voyage departing Sydney on April 23 2022. Mystery Island is known for stunning snorkelling – with the surrounding waters being a protected marine sanctuary – as well as its local marketplace. Other ports of call include New Caledonia’s Isle of Pines; Bora Bora or Papeete.

Raiatea, French Polynesia

Enjoy a spectacular seven days aboard Norwegian Spirit taking in destination highlights of South Pacific: Bora Bora, Moorea and Raiatea itinerary departing Papeete on October 31 2022. There will be overnight stays in Moorea, Bora Bora and Papeete. In Raiatea, guests can take ajourney along the Faaroa River aboard a motorised canoe and sail through wild hibiscus, bamboo groves and local villages. Other highlights include the opportunity to explore the tropical marine life of Bora Bora’s magical lagoon and in Moorea, travellers can experience a traditional feast and authentic Polynesian dance show.

Akaroa, New Zealand

Departing Sydney on March 3 2022 on the Norwegian Spirit this 12-day Australia & New Zealand: Sydney, Melbourne & Tauranga to Auckland voyage will call at a variety of ports, including the small town of Akaroa. The itinerary will also call at Eden on Australia’s Sapphire Coast, Dunedin, the Milford Sounda and Tauranga, set on the stunning Bay of Plenty.

Kyoto, Japan

The Norwegian Sun will head on 12-day Japan: Osaka & Busan itinerary departing October 27 2022. Visiting Kyoto in Japan, other itinerary highlights include the hot springs and beaches of Busan in South Korea, and an overnight Osaka stay. Guests will also be able to visit Shimizu, one of Japan’s most beautiful ports situated in the shadow of the famous Mount Fuji.

Phuket, Thailand

Setting sail from Singapore on February 17 2023, this 11-day Asia: Thailand, Vietnam & Malaysia to Bangkok sailing aboard Norwegian Sun explores the hidden gems of Southeast Asia including Phuket, the scenic island of Ko Samui, the bustling city of Ho Chi Minh City and Nha Trang in Vietnam.