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Several cruise ships have been forced to alter South Pacific itineraries to avoid category 5 Cyclone Pam which has devastated the island nation of Vanuatu.
An estimated 103,000 people in Vanuatu have been affected by the super cyclone, with thousands more feeling the impact in nine countries across the Pacific.
The storm, with winds of up to 185mph, struck populated areas when it reached Vanuatu early on Saturday local time.
It is now moving down the east coast of New Zealand. The storm has weakened significantly but about 100 people have been evacuated from coastal areas in Gisbourne, on the east of the North Island.
An alert is also in place in the Chatham Islands, southeast of Wellington.
Military aircraft carrying supplies have started arriving in Vanuatu from Australia and New Zealand, and other countries have pledged to help. Commercial flights were due to resume today (Monday).
Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria and P&O Cruises’ Aurora, all on world cruises, have had itineraries altered in the region.
Holland America Line’s Oosterdam was forced to miss a call into Port Vila in Vanuatu on Friday and instead spent a day at sea to avoid the weather front.
“We can assure you that everyone is safe. We will continue to monitor the weather in the region and should any further adjustments be required, guests will be notified,” the line said. “At Holland America Line the safety of our guests and crew is our top priority.”
Other companies forced into making itinerary changes include Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, P&O Cruises Australia and Royal Caribbean International.
P&O Cruises Australia said: “Because of the damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Pam over the weekend, Port Vila and Mystery Island is temporarily closed. Some minor damage has also been reported in Mare and all alternative port options have been exhausted in considering itineraries.
“We will be cancelling Pacific Dawn’s call to Port Vila on Wednesday.”
The ship is calling overnight in Noumea in New Caledonia as an alternative.
“Further voyage to the Pacific Islands will continue to be assessed on a case by case basis,” the line said.
Pacific Dawn arrives in Noumea this afternoon and will not remain overnight as an alternative.
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