Guests aboard the Pacific Encounter, a P&O Australia cruise ship, encountered an unusual and unsettling situation during their recent cruise to Melbourne from Brisbane for the Melbourne Cup. The ship was plagued by an infestation of plague soldier beetles, causing discomfort and concern among the passengers.
Unwelcome Guests on the Pacific Encounter
During the week-long cruise, which included a stop for the Melbourne Cup, one of Australia’s most famous and prestigious horse racing events, passengers were surprised to find swarms of plague soldier beetles in various areas of the ship.
These insects were seen congregating in crevices, furniture, and even on drinking glasses on Pacific Encounter. The infestation was not limited to the interiors; beetles were also found in the Byron Bay Club, a private retreat area on the ship, and near the outdoor pool area.
Guests received a letter from P&O Cruises Australia, featured on Yahoo, on November 10 in which it apologized for the infestation. “We received your feedback regarding the bugs infestation, which we deeply apologise for and acknowledge the inconvenience that this has caused.”
Images shared on social media by a guest highlighted the severity of the situation, sparking reactions of shock and disgust online. Comments ranged from concerns about the cleanliness of the ship to queries about the measures being taken to address the infestation.
One guest onboard during the faithful cruise between November 3 and November 11, said his voyage had been ruined by the bugs.
“I was in the hot tub in the Byron Bay area when these bugs were falling in the jacuzzi,” Paul England told Yahoo News Australia. “They were everywhere. The most revolting thing for me was they were on the handrails and touched these bugs at the start.”
The Nature of Plague Soldier Beetles
Plague soldier beetles, common in southeast Australia, including Melbourne, experience population surges during warmer months. These surges can lead to situations where these insects, normally outdoor dwellers, find their way into unusual environments like cruise ships.
Factors such as the ship’s inviting interiors and the availability of food and light can attract these beetles. The incident on the Pacific Encounter reflects this, where environmental conditions and the ship’s docking location in Melbourne during the beetles’ active season converged to create an ideal habitat for these insects.
Crew members have tried their best to combat the infestation, removing the beetles as much as possible. However, P&O Cruises Australia does not seem to be the culprit here.
Pest Control Onboard Cruise Ships
As with any land-based hotel, cruise ships have strict pest control protocols to eliminate or, at least, minimize the risks associated with pests onboard.
Galleys, storage spaces, and other utility areas are regularly inspected by the ship’s staff. Most cruise ships employ one or more ship sanitation officers to maintain the high standards required onboard. By identifying potential issues early, the crew can address them before they escalate into a serious problem.
However, in the case of Pacific Encounter, the issue seems to have been something the cruise ship could not have prevented, and could only react to. Guests who have sailed in tropical areas such as Australia or the Amazon River area will be intimately familiar with bugs cascading onto cruise ships during evening hours.
The 108,865 gross tons Pacific Encounter, offers a range of cruises departing from Brisbane, Australia. These include 3-night comedy cruises, 7-night Pacific Island cruises, and more. Ports of call include the Whitsunday Islands, Noumea and Lifou in New Caledonia, Vanuatu, and Arlie Beach, Australia. Pacific Encounter previously sailed under the name Golden Princess for Princess Cruises.
As Pacific Encounter sets sail on its upcoming cruises, guests and crew alike will hope for smoother, beetle-free voyages ahead.