Cruise Ship on Vanuatu Humanitarian Mission
P&O’s Pacific Dawn will sail to cyclone-ravaged Vanuatu on Saturday loaded with 30 tons of emergency supplies. It will be the first large cruise ship to visit since category five cyclone Pam hit on March 15.
At least seven people are known to have lost their lives, according to the Vanuatu government. However, United Nations figures set the death toll at 11. The cyclone caused extensive damage in the nation’s capital Port Vila and to several outer islands, and thousands of people have been left homeless.
Pacific Dawn passengers will not be allowed to disembark when the vessel arrives on Wednesday for the cruise’s scheduled stop. Rather the ship will only stay long enough to unload supplies of tarpaulins, tents, food and water. The aid will also include three industrial sized mulchers.
The cruise’s passengers have responded positively to the mission, raising money and donating items to assist the people of Vanuatu.
Pacific Dawn’s sister ship Pacific Pearl will leave Australia on Monday for Vanuatu’s capital Vila to deliver humanitarian aid, and Carnival Spirit leaves Sydney on March 30 for the nation’s Santo island with more aid.
P&O’s parent company Carnival Australia and the Carnival Corporation have donated a combined $300,000 to the relief efforts in Vanuatu. Carnival Corporation Chairman Micky Arison has matched Carnival Australia’s existing $150,000 combined contribution to Save the Children Australia’s relief efforts.
“Like all of us, Mr Arison has been closely following the events in Vanuatu with the utmost concern for the people of Vanuatu whom we have come to know and love over many years of cruising,” said Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry.
“We are doing everything we can to support our charity partner, Save the Children Australia. Their team is already active on the ground and has sent additional people and humanitarian aid with the first Royal Australian Air Force flight.
“It will be some time before our cruise ships can again call at Vila but we want to resume voyages as soon as authorities give the all clear because cruise tourism is the mainstay of the Vanuatu economy, and it will be vital to help the country rebuild.”
Plans are currently being developed for Carnival Australia ships sailing to Vanuatu to also carry building materials to assist with long term reconstruction in the wake of the cyclone.
Tourism accounts for about 20 percent of Vanuatu.