Cruise Line Answers Plea to Help Stranded Students After Airline Collapse

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P&O Cruises Australia has offered a group of stranded students in Vanuatu a free cruise home after the volunteer group’s travel plans collapsed. This has come as a great relief as the group found themselves more than 1,500 miles from home with no way to return to Australia when their airline declared insolvency and cancelled all flights.

The Hive Rotary Club Australia group was on a Paying It Forward volunteer trip in Vanuatu when Air Vanuatu declared insolvency on May 9, immediately grounding all flights. Because of the insolvency, Air Vanuatu was unable to help arrange alternative flights and the group of 16 teenagers and their chaperones had no way home.

The group reached out via social media and news outlets for assistance, and has been overwhelmed with the positive response.

P&O Cruises Helps Stranded Stranded Students
P&O Cruises Helps Stranded Stranded Students (Photo Credit: Hive Rotary Club Australia)

“We are delighted in the support that’s has come through all our media interviews with the offer from P&O exciting the students the most – six days on Pacific Adventure on the return leg to Sydney,” said Kellie Kadaoui, Hive Rotary Club President and team leader.

White Grass Ocean Resort & Spa, Vanuatu Travel, Rotary District 9790, and P&O Cruises Australia have all contributed to the group’s new arrangements. This includes arranging for internet and phone access to make plans, covering unexpected travel expenses, and, of course, the onward travel home.

“The last few days have been hectic to say the least but Vanuatu Travel secured 2 charter planes to get us off Tanna yesterday, Rotary District 9790 has provided funds to cover our out of pocket expenses, and P&O are giving our students an opportunity of a lifetime,” explained Kadaoui.

The group was able to board P&O Cruises Australia’s Pacific Adventure on Friday, May 17, and they will arrive back to Sydney, Australia on Thursday, May 23.

“Today we answered a plea for help from a group of young Australian Rotary volunteers, Stranded in Vanuatu after the collapse of Air Vanuatu. The 16 students and their chaperones will be sailing back to Australia in style onboard Pacific Adventure!” P&O Cruises Australia confirmed on social media. “Enjoy your trip home!”

P&O Cruises Helps Stranded Stranded Students
P&O Cruises Helps Stranded Stranded Students (Photo Credit: Hive Rotary Club Australia)

Pacific Adventure is currently sailing a 10-night sailing to Vanuatu. The ship was also scheduled to visit Lifou and Noumea in New Caledonia as part of the trip, but those ports of call were cancelled due to unrest on the island.

The 109,000-gross-ton, Grand-class Pacific Adventure can welcome 2,600 passengers. The ship is also home to 1,100 international crew members who will undoubtedly go out of the way to make the volunteer group feel welcome after their unsettling trip.

“Thank you so much for this incredibly generous gesture to help out and bring the volunteers back! My son is in the group and we parents are extremely grateful to P&O!” said Helena Zurkirchen, a concerned parent of one of the volunteers.

Read Also: Carnival Cruise Line Helps Family After They Were Stranded in the Caribbean

It should be noted that P&O Cruises Australia is providing the trip home at no cost, but the group still has roughly $10,000 in expenses that include domestic flights from Sydney to Albury (where most of the students are from). The group does have extensive travel insurance, but insolvency is not covered under the terms and conditions.

About the Volunteer Trip

The Paying It Forward youth program was created in 2013 and visits various locations to complete service projects. Students in years 9-12 can participate, and to date, more than 150 teens have joined projects in Fiji, Alice Springs, Kenya, and other programs.

The current trip to Vanuatu has included problem-solving sessions, work on a local clinic, and commitments to fundraising to continue health care efforts on Tanna.

P&O Cruises Helps Stranded Stranded Students
P&O Cruises Helps Stranded Stranded Students (Photo Credit: P&O Australia)

Hive Rotary Club is accepting donations to help cover expenses for the repatriation of the group, and it is yet unknown whether or not any financial support may be provided by the Australian government. Any excess funds will be used to support upgrading the health clinic on Tanna, the focus of the group’s volunteer trip.

Hive Rotary Club is a project-based organization dedicated to building international relationships through promoting peace, fighting disease, supporting education, growing local economies, and protecting the environment. Members can join from anywhere within Australia.

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