In a bold and heart-warming move to get their passengers home, British line Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Vasco da Gama and Columbus made a switch of passengers.

With the Department of Foreign Affairs issuing a warning calling all Aussies home, CMV went to lengthy efforts to get them back.

Sailing on a world cruise, the Columbus has picked up hundreds of passengers in Sydney, Cairns and Darwin. Earlier this week, she was ordered to curtail her world itinerary and head back to her homeport of Tilbury in the United Kingdom.

But the line gave passengers the option to spend the next four weeks at sea while she made her way back north, or join the Vasco da Gama off the coast of Phuket Island, which is bound for her point of origin in Fremantle, Western Australia

CMV said 176 Australian passengers were transferred from Columbus to Vasco da Gama while 63 were transferred from Vasco da Gama to Columbus.

Off the coast of Phuket, there were spectacular scenes when the exchange was carried out by a fleet of zodiacs over a full day.

“Australian and New Zealand nationals and residents remained onboard Vasco da Gama, while those onboard Columbus were transferred to Vasco da Gama by tender. Vasco da Gama set sail in the early afternoon for Fremantle, Australia where guests will disembark around 27 March,” said the line a statement.

“European nationals and residents were transferred from Vasco da Gama to Columbus to join other Europeans before setting sail for London Tilbury, where guests are expected to disembark around 13 April.

“We would like to thank our guests and staff presently onboard our ships across the world, as well as shoreside officials, for their great support, understanding and patience during this time.”