P&O Australia’s cruise ship Pacific Adventure has been denied entry into New Zealand’s ports due to stringent biosecurity measures necessitating a hull cleaning. The vessel, which was scheduled to explore several ports in New Zealand, now faces an altered itinerary due to environmental protection regulations.
P&O Cruises has already announced several compensation measures for guests onboard, who will undoubtedly be extremely disappointed that the vessel will not be sailing to the main attraction of the voyage. The incident is another in a series of cruise ships that have been denied entry into New Zealand in the last year, and already the second time the issue has affected Pacific Adventure.
Major Itinerary Changes for Pacific Adventure
Cruise itineraries can be changed at any time, and usually, this involves a missed port or an additional day at sea. However, guests onboard P&O Australia cruise ship Pacific Adventure were dealt a disappointing blow when they found out their ship would not be sailing to New Zealand on a 13-night Kiwi Adventure cruise, that sailed on November 20, 2023.
From Sydney, the vessel’s itinerary would have sailed to the Bay of Islands, Auckland, Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, and Fjordland National Park, all in New Zealand, and return to Sydney, Australia, on December 3. However, the vessel will not be sailing to any of these ports.
The surprising announcement comes after multiple inspections failed to identify a biosecurity risk in time, leading to a last-minute discovery that rendered the ship non-compliant with New Zealand’s biosecurity requirements.
Guests aboard Pacific Adventure were notified of itinerary changes by the captain onboard, after which the onboard hotel director relayed the messages from the captain in a letter distributed to those onboard.
“As you are aware, we were required by New Zealand authorities to undertake a hull clean to remove a recently discovered, high-risk species before we could enter New Zealand,” stated the hotel director in the communication to guests.
“The weather has not aligned with the predicted forecast and conditions dramatically changed upon the divers entering the water. Similar weather conditions are also forecast for the coming days making the possibility of further cleaning very remote. As a result, we have not been able to safely complete the required additional cleaning of the ship’s hull.”
Revised Itinerary and Guest Compensation
In response to the denied entry, an alternative itinerary focusing on Australian ports only has been developed.
Guests will now spend November 25, 26, and 27 at sea. On November 28, the vessel will be in Hobart for an overnight stay. Thursday, November 30, Pacific Adventure will be in Port Arthur, followed by a sea day on December 1. December 2 will be spent in Eden, and the vessel returns to Sydney on December 3.
P&O Australia assured guests that any pre-booked P&O Shore tours for the original ports would be refunded as an onboard credit. The onboard team is also working to confirm shore tours that align with the new schedule.
The compensation package includes a 25% additional future cruise credit on top of an earlier 25% offer and a $300 onboard credit per person.
Wider Impact on Cruise Operations
The last year has seen several cruise ships, including Viking Orion and Regent Seven Seas Explorer, reroute due to New Zealand’s biosecurity laws. Carnival Splendor and Coral Princess also faced similar challenges, with the latter canceling a portion of its scenic cruising.
To protect its waters, New Zealand has been unapologetic about enforcing these biosecurity measures, affecting the cruise industry’s operations in the region. The country has some of the strictest biofouling regulations globally.
While it has been disappointing for guests onboard Pacific Adventure, the rules in New Zealand are and always have been apparent. It’s a clear message to cruise operators that rigorous hull cleaning must be prioritized before setting sail for New Zealand. This rings especially true when we consider this is already the second time that Pacific Adventure’s itinerary has been changed for the same issue.
Unless the cruise lines sailing to New Zealand start taking these measures seriously and implement strict cleaning measures before sailing to New Zealand, we will be seeing more and more incidents, impacting more and more guests wishing to experience New Zealand’s beautiful coastline.