P&O Pacific Partnership

When choosing a charity to work with, P&O Cruises looked to partner with an organisation already working in the regions our ships visit. We wanted to give back to the communities which have been so warmly welcoming us – and so, the P&O Pacific Partnership was born.

In January 2013 we partnered with Save the Children to form the P&O Pacific Partnership, with the aim of improving community health services and education in Pacific Island nations.Thanks to our guests we had raised over $1 million by the end of 2017 and we continue to raise funds for this great cause.

Many children in Vanuatu do not have access to well-trained early childhood education teachers or safe facilities, and for children living in remote parts of Vanuatu, they don’t have access to early education at all.

Save the Children is one of Australia’s largest aid and development agencies dedicated to helping children and has been doing so for more than 90 years.

Passengers directly contribute to the work carried out through an automatic $1 donation to their onboard account. This donation is for guests over the age of 18 on all cruises. Guests can choose to opt out of the program if they wish – or donate more at Guest Services via there onboard account.

P&O Cruises launched the partnership with a start-up contribution of $50,000 which enabled the completion of the first project – a kindergarten for the Talwa community in Vanuatu’s Panema province.

Since then a kindergarten has opened in the Sanma Province in Santo East, an aid post in the remote Hiu Island in Torres, Torba, and a health dispensary on Aneityum Island.

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Born to Knit

For passengers who want to get more hands on, they can participate in an onboard “Born to Knit” program. For $10 guests can purchase a knitting kit from Save the Children complete with needles, wool and instructions, and sit together in a group session where they each knit squares. The squares are then joined together to become multi-coloured woollen blankets. Thanks to the knitting skills of our passengers and crew, hundreds of blankets have been completed and donated to the maternity ward of the Vila Central Hospital in Port Vila, Vanuatu, to comfort newborn babies.

Cruise Director Alun Sullivan has been driving the program onboard Pacific Jewel and says it’s a rewarding experience for passengers and crew “It’s a fantastic activity that unites our passengers and crew in a great mission –after all, who could resist knitting blankets for little babies?” he said.

Talwa Kindergarten

Before P&O Cruises partnered with Save the Children to build the Talwa Kindergarten, there was a rundown kindergarten in the village with wooden walls which had become rotten from the rain. The roof leaked, and there was no safe drinking water nearby. It was hard to get children to come to kindergarten because their work and toys would get ruined in the rain.

Now, thanks to the Pacific Partnership, the new kindergarten has a concrete floor, mats, a steel roof, play equipment, new toilets and a water tank, and children now love going to kindy.

A ceremony to officially open the Talwa Kindergarten was held in October 2013 after children returned from holidays to find their brand new kindy.

The opening ceremony was a colourful occasion, with customary dancing. Members of the community presented representatives from the P&O Pacific Partnership with a wooden walking stick which is traditionally gifted to “high chiefs” to acknowledge the Partnership’s leadership, protection and guidance. It was a great honour.

Aneityum Dispensary

The Pacific Partnership’s biggest project to date, in January 2015 P&O Cruises and Save the Children delivered a desperately needed medical facility to the remote Vanuatu Island of Aneityum. The $270,000 project replaced a run-down pre 1970s building which was not weather or insect proof, had no power nor could meet the needs of the clinicians or 150 patients each month. Babies were born at night and were delivered by torchlight.

The new dispensary has raised healthcare standards on the island with features including a waiting area, maternity delivery room and separate consultancy, in-patient and treatment rooms, dental services, new storage facilities, plus modern medical equipment and solar powered electricity.

Located in the southernmost Tafea province, Aneityum is the home community to nearby Mystery Island, one of P&O Cruises’ most popular South Pacific destinations. With only one barge a month bringing supplies to the “last island in Vanuatu”, the dispensary took six months to build.

Country Director of Save the Children Vanuatu, Tom Skirrow, says the dispensary is providing improved healthcare outcomes for about 1800 patients on Aneityum every year.

“We are looking at inter-generational improvements that will be realised for decades to come”, Mr Skirrow said.

Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia which operates P&O Cruises, said the new project was an exciting example of P&O Pacific Partnership at work.

“We have made a commitment to give back to the communities who make our guests so welcome and our partnership with Save the Children is an excellent way to achieve this” Ms Sherry said.

“The Pacific Islands are among the most beautiful in the world offering truly unique experiences but there is also a significant community need when it comes to health and education facilities. Our guests welcome the opportunity to join with P&O Cruises and Save the Children in addressing these needs.”

Cyclone Pam

When Cyclone Pam devastated Vanuatu in March 2015, P&O Cruises sprung into action – turning regular cruises into humanitarian missions. Pacific Dawn became the first cruise ship carrying humanitarian aid to reach Port Vila in the wake of the cyclone. The equivalent of a full shipping container worth of goods was transported from Brisbane including 75 tents offering shelter to an estimated 450 people, and 192 tarpaulins able to cover an area of more than 4600sqm. There were also several pallets of bottled water, tinned food, children’s toys, and three industrial mulchers which played a vital role in the clean-up and prevention of airborne disease and fire hazards. Our passengers were invited to contribute directly to the mission by bringing canned food, insect repellent and personal hygiene products on their cruises.

Days after Pacific Dawn’s visit, Pacific Pearl departed Sydney with twice as much aid including more food and water, corrugated iron for shelter, along with hygiene products and batteries.

In total P&O Cruises’ ships made 11 visits to Vanuatu with humanitarian aid, spent $50,000 on immediate supplies, and in addition, provided nearly $20,000 more in donations from our passengers and crew.

Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia which operates P&O Cruises, said at the time: “Our passengers have been eager to do their bit for the people of Vanuatu. As well as banding together to deliver big shipments of aid, every time one of our ships calls at a Vanuatu port the influx of passengers plays a big part in helping communities recover. With two-thirds of international visitors arriving in Vanuatu on board cruise ships, cruise tourism is crucial to the Vanuatu economy”.

Kiwi Passenger's Quilt Mission

During one of Pacific Pearl’s humanitarian missions, some very special cargo from New Zealand was loaded. Kiwi quilter Caroline Mason was behind a nationwide quilt drive, and managed to gather more than 700 quilts from around New Zealand to take on her cruise to Vanuatu. The colourful quilts were sent to the colder southern islands where the devastation was the greatest.

Along with transporting the blankets, the April 18 2015 cruise from Auckland also transported a number of other donated items including baby formula, bedding, batteries, building materials, water, water containers and water purification tablets.