Carnival Australia Cruise Passengers First to Go Ashore in Port Vila

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Passengers departing Brisbane this Saturday on P&O Cruises Pacific Dawn will become the first to go ashore in Port Vila following the devastation caused by Cyclone Pam.

Vila has been confirmed as safe for cruise visitors to return as a result of the determined recovery efforts that have been underway since the cyclone hit causing widespread damage.

Pacific Pearl will follow Pacific Dawn into Vila three days later with both ships continuing to deliver shipments of humanitarian aid including building material to support reconstruction efforts.

The decision to allow passengers to again go ashore in Vila follows an on the ground assessment by Carnival Australia specialists in consultation with local government authorities.

"The arrival of the two ships, which between them will be carrying nearly 4000 passengers, sends powerful signals about Vanuatu's capacity to bounce back from such a major natural disaster," said Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry.

"Our passengers have been eager to return to Vila to show their support for the people of Vanuatu and it is an expression of our promise to resume regular cruise calls because of the importance of cruise tourism to the Vanuatu economy.

"Two thirds of international visitors arrive in Vanuatu on board cruise ships and we wanted to return as soon as possible."

Following the devastation caused by Cyclone Pam, Carnival Australia, which operates P&O Cruises, committed $300,000 to Save the Children's relief effort in Vanuatu including $150,000 from Carnival Corporation Chairman Micky Arison from his family foundation.

Pacific Dawn will arrive in Port Vila on Wednesday and Pacific Pearl, departing from Auckland on April 6, will be there on April 11.

While passengers will be able to go ashore they are being urged to remain within Vila's downtown area and to not venture into residential areas or travel to outlying communities still grappling with the impact of the cyclone.

"The aid shipments to Vanuatu on board our cruise ships is a natural consequence of the strong relationships we have developed in Vanuatu over many years and our commitment to ensure island communities share the economic benefits of cruising," Ms Sherry said.

"We have worked with international agencies to develop infrastructure to support cruise ship visits to beautiful destinations and we have helped communities establish viable tourism ventures that create jobs and opportunity.

"The return of our ships and our passengers is a very important sign that life in Vanuatu is finally getting back to normal after such a traumatic experience."

Four Carnival Australia ships -- P&O Cruises' Pacific Dawn and Pacific Pearl and Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Legend and Carnival Spirit -- have been carrying aid shipments to Vanuatu.

The emphasis is now on carrying building materials to repair schools and other community structures.