Last updated: 05:36 PM ET, Sun March 15 2015

Cruise Ships Skipping Vanuatu Calls Post-Cyclone Pam as Aid Starts Arriving

Destination & Tourism | Michael Isenbek | March 15, 2015

Cruise Ships Skipping Vanuatu Calls Post-Cyclone Pam as Aid Starts Arriving

Photo courtesy of NOAA

As Vanuatu starts to pick up the pieces after the devastation of Cyclone Pam, cruise ship companies with the South Pacific island chain on their itineraries are beginning to think twice about calling there, according to Seatrade Insider.

It remains to be seen whether Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas will call at heavily affected Port Vila Monday, but the liner did conduct a tender call at Champagne Bay in northern Vanuatu and nearby Luganville is the next destination. In a statement, the company said, “Our thoughts go to the many families in Vanuatu who have been impacted by this powerful storm.”

P&O Cruises Australia’s Pacific Dawn was due into Port Vila after sailing from Australia on Wednesday but a company spokesperson said this is now “highly unlikely.”

Carnival Australia, a parent organization of P&O, issued a statement emphasizing the importance of the safety of passengers, crews, and the ships. “We are trying to get an accurate picture of the situation on the ground in Vanuatu,” the statement said. “We will not take ships into Vanuatu if it makes the recovery effort more difficult for local authorities. We also have a number of Ni-Vanuatu staff on P&O Cruises’ ships and we are doing everything we can to help them make contact with home and families.”

Carnival Legend, also sailing out of Australia, was due to call at Port Vila, Mystery Island and Santo in Vanuatu but a Carnival Cruise Line statement said the captain and his team are currently working on alternative South Pacific destinations.

“The people of Vanuatu have always welcomed our guests and crew to their beautiful islands with warm smiles and open arms,” the statement said. “Our hearts and minds are with the inhabitants of Vanuatu.”

Meanwhile, at the epicenter of the destruction the Vanuatu Red Cross is making a preliminary assessment of the damage in Port Vila and beyond, according to a statement.  

“The humanitarian needs are enormous,” said Augustine Garae, head of disaster management for the Vanuatu Red Cross, as he looked out at Port Vila’s wrecked landscape. “We know there has been widespread destruction and many people have lost their homes.”

Shelter, water, food, and first aid are urgent priorities that all agencies and volunteers will helping to deploy to all those affected by the storm.

“Communication is down in much of the country but we are doing everything possible to help those in need,” said Aurélia Balpe, head of delegation for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the Pacific.

“Tens of thousands of people are still in the middle of a terrifying ordeal and we need to urgently assess the humanitarian needs and start meeting them as soon as possible”.

Other international aid agencies will be on the scene shortly, according to, the Red Cross will be joined by The Pacific Humanitarian Team, UNICEF and UNHCR in its efforts to help those affected by Pam, according to a report out of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian, Affairs, who will assist the Vanuatu government with response coordination.

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