Janine Sherriff and Kyle Risk are justifiably furious the dream wedding they planned for the weekend at Hobbiton, New Zealand, has been ruined thanks to New Zealand’s biosecurity rules and poor planning by P&O Australia.

They expected to tie the knot at the Lord of the Rings movie set after cruising to the location aboard the Pacific Adventure, but the ship was turned away from New Zealand because its hull had not been cleaned.

Ms Sherriff said the idea to get married came about as they looked at the itinerary after receiving tickets from parents. “Kyle is a massive Lord of the Rings fan and when we found we were going there, we jokingly mentioned they do a wedding package,” she told the ABC.

“His face just absolutely lit up like it was the greatest thing ever discovered.

Then, with the ship underway and hundreds of other passengers looking forward to a New Zealand adventure, came the blow. The Pacific Adventure 13-night “Kiwi Adventure” cruise had turned into a debacle.

What P&O says

P&O Australia maintained in an initial statement guests were told before embarkation there could be significant itinerary changes.

“Due to New Zealand’s strict biosecurity requirements, the ship left Sydney on Monday for hull cleaning off the Bay of Plenty, however the weather did not allow this to happen, so we apologise that the itinerary had to be amended.”


I’ve sailed in Europe and the Kimberley in the last three months, and on both cruises the captains talked of the problems in New Zealand and how much they hoped the debacle of last year’s constant cancellations due to the impact of harsh biosecurity regulations would not happen again.

They also told me their lines had taken extra precautions this year to ensure their hulls were cleared before they set off on their journeys. And that’s an important point.

P&O Australia can hardly claim it was a surprise that the Kiwi authorities turned the ship away.

They knew when they planned this itinerary they would need to prove the ship’s hull had been cleaned by a reputable company – many lines got caught out at great cost to themselves and their long-suffering passengers last season.

So leaving the cleaning to the last minute was a risk.

When the passengers bought their tickets for New Zealand – it was called, after all, a “Kiwi Adventure” – they had a right to expect the ship was prepared, given the number of times the New Zealand authorities have warned cruise lines they will uphold their laws no matter what.

One guest has told Cruise Passenger’s Facebook page that cleaning began on the itinerary before New Zealand. And it is understood experts told P&O the removal of 3 juvenile mussels and a single hydroid commonly known as lace coral would allow them to pass into NZ waters.

Angry guests on board the Pacific Adventure in New Zealand have taken to social media to complain they have been offered a percentage off future cruises. So no compensation today – just something off if you chose to cruise with the line they feel has already let them down.

Many say they won’t be sailing with P&O again.

Disappointed Passengers

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Bridegroom-to-be Kyle Risk told the ABC: “First off, I was furious. I saw Janine’s face when we got the news. I was ready to explode. I got a selfie from our family and friends at the site in Hobbiton we should have been on about 20 minutes before we had to turn around.”

“Now we have to figure out what to do about our wedding, we have all this money down the drain,” added Ms Sherriff.

Another passenger, speaking to ABC News, said the ship, which is now nearing Hobart as a fill-in for the New Zealand itinerary, was in “uproar”.

David Curtis was supposed to be seeing friends in New Zealand from Pacific Adventure for his 60th birthday.

“This is horrendous, I have missed out on seeing friends based in New Zealand. They were not able to come to Australia for my birthday celebrations and I said that is OK – I am coming to see you.”

He maintained: “We got an email last Thursday [from P&O] that said the itinerary was being changed and that only two of the destinations would be missed – Auckland and Bay of Islands.”

He went on: “They have offered us a percentage off a future ticket. I never plan to travel with these people again. They [P&O] knew about the hull needing attention before the cruise.”

He added that an additional $300 was offered when P&O cancelled the rest of the New Zealand leg.

“The money is to spend on the ship during the cruise. It is the most expensive hotel on the planet. The $300 would not even buy a carton of beer. It is $11 for a beer on this boat. We are trapped. This has been an absolute debacle.”

The Background

New Zealand welcomes the return of cruising with an Auckland party

Cruise Passenger reported last year on the many instances when ships were turned away from New Zealand by bio-security laws which had been in place for at least four years. The Kiwi Authorities maintained everyone has been warned and it was their right to protect their pristine environment from possible hazards attached to ships’ hulls.

We pondered whether the Kiwi authorities were just being obdurate. Or whether cruise lines were trying to get them to back down because hull cleaning is expensive. At one stage we wondered whether cruise lines should be scheduling cruises to NZ at all if they couldn’t guarantee

New Zealand has said it is expecting 360,000 passengers and 149,000 crew this season. That’s a lot of holiday dreams and millions of dollars of business.

We hope this incident serves as a lesson. Of course, cruising is subject to many factors, weather being one of the most important. But good preparation is essential if we are to return certainty to one of our favourite holiday destinations.

To quote one angry guest on social media: “This is just a turd covered in gold glitter.”

And another: “Get me off this boat and give me a full refund.”

Update from P&O – better compensation offered

P&O has now put out a statement offering passengers 50% compensation rather than a future cruise credit as well as the $300 on board credit.

“P&O Cruises Australia can advise a change to the compensation for guests on board Pacific Adventure, after the ship was unable to visit New Zealand.

“We have listened to the feedback from our guests and understand not all of them wish to cruise with us again. The 50% Future Cruise Credit already offered will be converted to a refund.

“The $300 per person on board credit remains.

“Again, we apologise for the change in itinerary, and thank our guests for their patience and understanding.”