Passengers cruising onboard P&O Cruises’ Pacific Dawn have today become the first cruise guests to go ashore in Port Vila following Cyclone Pam’s devastation of Vanuatu on March 13.
In addition to carrying 1800 guests who are expected to spend the day on shore tours exploring the port, Pacific Dawn delivered another shipment of humanitarian aid as Vanuatu continues to rebuild after the natural disaster that saw wind surges of up to 270km/h.
There was a carnival atmosphere at the wharf in Vila this morning with a band and musicians turning the return of cruise passengers into a celebration.
Cruise tourism is a vital component of the Vanuatu economy with two thirds of international visitors arriving by cruise ship.
Sister ship Pacific Pearl is due in Vila on Saturday when her guests will also be going ashore.
The visits are expected to inject vital funds into the local economy and lift locals’ spirits during a time of rebuilding.
In recent weeks, both Pacific Dawn and Pacific Pearl have made calls at Vila but only to deliver aid shipments.
P&O Cruises has praised guests on these cruises who were unable to go ashore but fully supported the United for Vanuatu aid mission and contributed in a big way through personal donations to the relief effort.
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.