Cruise Line Cancels Visits to South Pacific Destination Over Unrest

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In light of the continuing unrest in New Caledonia over a controversial election reform bill, P&O Cruises Australia has opted to cancel upcoming visits to both Lifou and Noumea. This decision is made in an abundance of caution to ensure the safety of guests and crew members.

The cruise line is reaching out to guests about itinerary changes, and is substituting an alternative port of call so travelers do not miss out on the beauty of the region.

“Due to the state of emergency declared because of civil unrest in New Caledonia, Pacific Adventure will no longer call to Lifou or Noumea,” a P&O Cruises Australia spokesperson said to Cruise Hive. “Instead, our guests will spend an additional day at Mystery Island.”

Pacific Adventure in Sydney Harbour
Pacific Adventure in Sydney Harbour (Photo Credit: aiyoshi597)

The 108,865-gross-ton Pacific Adventure is currently sailing a 10-night “Discover Vanuatu” sailing from Sydney that departed on Monday, May 13. The ship was due to visit Lifou on Sunday, May 19, followed by Noumea on Monday, May 20.

Read Also: Unrest in Noumea Prompts Cruise Line Alerts, Potential Itinerary Changes

Mystery Island is part of Vanuatu and is 250 miles northeast of Noumea and 160 miles east-northeast of Lifou.

The ship’s May 26 departure, a 12-night “Fiji Adventure” cruise, is also due to visit Noumea on Wednesday, May 29. At this time, there is no indication about how long the cancellation of New Caledonia visits may last.

“We continue to closely monitor the situation in Noumea and surrounding areas and are in contact with the relevant authorities. The safety of our guests and crew is paramount and should we need to make any further changes to upcoming itineraries due to the current situation, we will let our guests know as soon as possible,” the statement continued.

“Our thoughts are with the communities of New Caledonia at this challenging time and we thank our guests for their understanding.”

South Pacific itineraries often feature outstanding beautiful destinations with pristine beaches and unique cultures, and are popular ports of call for cruise travelers. While these changes will undoubtedly be disappointing for Pacific Adventure guests, safety is always the first concern for cruise lines.

Pacific Encounter is also scheduled to visit Lifou on May 22 and Noumea on June 24. It is possible those calls may also be cancelled depending on how the local situation continues to develop.

Noumea, New Caledonia
Noumea, New Caledonia (Photo Credit: IKT COLLECTIONS)

It should be noted that P&O Cruises Australia’s cruise contract specifically notes that ports of call may be changed.

“Cruise itineraries are not guaranteed and onboard offerings may vary,” Section 2(a) reads. “Many factors may affect our ability to provide any particular planned itinerary. These include weather or environmental conditions, mechanical difficulties, civil unrest, health and safety emergencies, providing assistance to other vessels, or other unforeseen circumstances. As a result, we cannot guarantee itineraries.”

Carnival Cruise Line Australia also has upcoming calls scheduled for both Noumea and Lifou with Carnival Splendor, and may similarly adjust itineraries for safety concerns. Guests booked on cruises in the region should stay in close contact with their cruise line for possible itinerary changes or cancellations as necessary.

Cancellations for Civil Unrest

It is not unusual for cruise lines to adjust planned itineraries in the case of civil unrest or regional violence. Most recently, Royal Caribbean International cancelled visits to its private destination of Labadee, Haiti due to violence and upheaval.

Just days ago, the cruise line announced that all calls to Haiti are cancelled at least through September 2024. Because many Royal Caribbean ships call on Labadee, different arrangements and alternate ports of call are being arranged as possible. If no substitute port of call is available, ships may enjoy a day at sea instead.

Current tensions in the Red Sea have forced many cruise lines to alter or cancel sailings, including world cruises. Similarly, in early 2022, many cruise lines removed calls to St. Petersburg, Russia after violence developed with Ukraine.

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