Update, 11:50 p.m. EST: Holland America, whose Rotterdam is due to call on Melbourne this Friday, has confirmed that its Wildlife and Wineries tour has been cancelled due to the tragic fires affecting the region. However, all other tours are on schedule and the ship is planning to port in Melbourne as scheduled. Stay tuned.
As cruise ships prepare to arrive in Melbourne in just a few days, up to 20 fires continue to burn in areas outside the city and the death toll is reported to have risen to 181.
Holland America's Rotterdam is due into Melbourne on Friday and P&O Cruises and Regent are scheduled to call next week. At this point, none of the lines have announced changes to itineraries or shore excursions.
However, we're still keeping a close eye on the impact the fires could have on upcoming shore tours. In fact, we've just today learned that an excursion was indeed cancelled this past weekend. In a response to inquiries from earlier this week, Carnival Australia -- which represents brands such as P&O Cruises and Princess in Australia -- tells us that Princess Cruises' Dawn Princess had to cancel its winery tour to the Yarra Valley when the ship was in port on Saturday, February 7. Sun Princess is due back in Melbourne on Tuesday -- but for embarkation, so no tours will be impacted.
Holland America offers a comparable tour to the wine region, but as mentioned above, has not yet announced any plans to cancel or alter it.
Though Australia's southeast region has been impacted by the deadly fires, the city of Melbourne has not suffered, and the majority of the area's world-renowned wine regions remain unaffected according to Tourism Australia.
We will continue to keep a close eye on shore excursions planned in the Victoria region.
We'll keep you posted.
--by Kelly Ranson, U.K. Editor
Will Fires Affect Australia Cruises?
Update: Will Fires Affect Australia Cruises?
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Update: Another Tour Cancelled Due to Australia Fires
February 11, 2009