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Severest cyclone to ever hit Fiji causes disruption to cruise itineraries

Severest cyclone to ever hit Fiji causes disruption to cruise itineraries
Category 5 tropical cyclone Winston, the most powerful storm on record in the Southern Hemisphere, made landfall in Fiji on Saturday causing severe damage across the island nation.

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama declared a state of emergency that will be in effect for 30 days and a nationwide curfew remains in effect as emergency crews clear roads and restore power.

‘We are deeply saddened by the devastating situation in Fiji,’ a Royal Caribbean spokesperson said.

‘We are closely monitoring the progress of the storm system which has necessitated changes to the itineraries of Voyager of the Seas and Legend of the Seas’ current eight-night South Pacific cruises. Voyager of the Seas departed Sydney on February 19 and Legend of the Seas departed Brisbane on February 18.’

The spokesperson said instead of calling at Mystery Island, Voyager of the Seas’ itinerary will include a call at Brisbane and instead of calling at Mystery Island and Port Vila, Legend of the Seas’ itinerary will include a call at Champagne Bay and an extra 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.

‘We will continue to support Fiji as they rebuild and recover, making every effort to maintain our scheduled port calls in the weeks and months ahead if it is appropriate to do so.’

P&O Cruises Australia said that based on information from its port agents and local and government agencies, it realises that its Fijian destinations are not in a position to receive visitors at this time.

‘It is only reasonable that these communities are able to concentrate completely on recovery operations,’ a spokesperson said. ‘With this in mind Pacific Pearl will instead visit Tonga where we can provide a full programme of shore tours.

‘We have agreed with our friends at Save the Children Australia to devote A$50,000 from the P&O Cruises Pacific Partnership to relief efforts in Fiji.’

A Carnival Cruise Line spokesperson said it is committed to returning to Suva and Port Denarau as soon as the people of Fiji are ready to welcome it back.

‘We are still evaluating the impact of the storm and will advise our booked guests if we believe a change to any itineraries is required.’

Princess Cruises Australia said Dawn Princess is due to arrive in Denarau on March 1 and it will continue to monitor the situation.

Meantime, the company is donating A$25,000 to Save the Children’s relief efforts.

Captain Cook Cruises Fiji, which offers three-, four-, seven- and 11-night voyages from  Denarau Marina with the 130-passenger Reef Endeavour, hopes to resume operations on February 27.

‘We are still to receive word from many of the villages and islands we visit and pray that they are all safe, particularly in the Yasawa, Savusavu and Lau Group,’ a spokeswoman said.

‘We are encouraging passengers who are cruising with us soon to one of these affected islands to bring some basic supplies to donate.’