The most severe storm on record in the Southern Hemisphere, category 5 tropical cyclone Winston, made landfall in Fiji on Saturday (February 20), causing huge damage across the island.
Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama declared a state of emergency in effect for 30 days. A nationwide curfew is in effect until emergency crews restore power and clear roads. A Royal Caribbean spokesperson said:
‘We are deeply saddened by the devastating situation in Fiji. We are closely monitoring the progress of the storm system which has necessitated changes to the itineraries of Voyager of the Seas and Legend of the Seas’ current eight-night South Pacific cruises. Voyager of the Seas departed Sydney on February 19 and Legend of the Seas departed Brisbane on February 18.’
Instead of calling at Mystery Island, the itinerary of Voyager of the Seas will include a call at Brisbane. Instead of calling at Port Vila and Mystery Island, Legend of the Seas will visit Champagne Bay and offer an extra day at sea.
‘All sailings will continue to embark as scheduled from Australia and we will advise our guests of any itinerary changes to future cruises as and when they occur in order to provide them with a safe and comfortable holiday.
‘We will continue to support Fiji as they rebuild and recover, making every effort to maintain our scheduled port calls in the weeks and months ahead if it is appropriate to do so.’
P&O Cruises Australia announced it realised that the Fijian destinations were not in a position to receive new visitors at that time. A spokesperson for the line said:
‘It is only reasonable that these communities are able to concentrate completely on recovery operations. With this in mind Pacific Pearl will instead visit Tonga where we can provide a full programme of shore tours.
‘We have agreed with our friends at Save the Children Australia to devote A$50,000 from the P&O Cruises Pacific Partnership to relief efforts in Fiji.’
‘We are still evaluating the impact of the storm and will advise our booked guests if we believe a change to any itineraries is required.’
Princess Cruises Australia announced that on March 1 Dawn Princess was due to arrive in Denarau and it would continue to monitor the situation. The company is donating A$25,000 to relief efforts of Save the Children.
Captain Cook Cruises Fiji, which offers 3-, 4-, 7- and 11-night cruises from Denarau Marina with Reef Endeavour, hopes to resume its operations on February 27. A spokeswoman for the company said:
‘We are still to receive word from many of the villages and islands we visit and pray that they are all safe, particularly in the Yasawa, Savusavu and Lau Group. We are encouraging passengers who are cruising with us soon to one of these affected islands to bring some basic supplies to donate.’