P&O Cruises Australia has further altered Pacific Dawn's present cruise itinerary, at the request of the Queensland Government, due to confirmed cases onboard of the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu. There are 33 Britons onboard.
Three crewmembers remain in isolation after being treated for flu-like symptoms; all tested positive for swine flu, according to a statement from the cruise line. (P&O says it also sent swabs for two passengers ashore yesterday, which tested negative to H1N1. They remain in isolation, however, to contain seasonal influenza.)
Because of the outbreak, and concerns about being able to effectively quarantine diseases in the region, Pacific Dawn will no longer visit any North Queensland ports. The ship will instead visit Brisbane on Saturday and return to Sydney on Monday -- three days ahead of schedule.
According to the statement, passengers onboard this voyage -- 33 of which, again, are Britons -- will be compensated. However, further details were not available at press time. A U.K.-based spokesperson for P&O Cruises tells us that this voyage was not sold in the U.K., and travelweekly.co.uk reports that the British passengers booked their holidays direct with the company's Australian arm. Representatives in Australia have not yet responded to our multiple requests for comment and additional information.
The statement also contends that reports of the ship being quarantined are false. "The yellow flag hoisted on Pacific Dawn yesterday does not mean the ship is under quarantine," the statement reads. "The flag was hoisted on approach to Gladstone yesterday in accordance with nautical tradition as it symbolises a request for port entry and indicates the ship is healthy. The ship took the flag down after gaining authority to enter."
We'll keep you posted.
--by Melissa Baldwin Paloti, Managing Editor, with reporting by Kelly Ranson, U.K. Editor
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P&O Australia Cruise Cut Short Due to Swine Flu
May 28, 2009