(1:34 p.m. EDT) -- Over the past couple of weeks, a number of severe weather events have devastated areas of Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. In September, Typhoon Ketsana hit Manila, causing severe flooding, and a strong earthquake and subsequent tsunami rocked the Samoan Islands and Tonga. Houses were flattened, and cars and people were swept out to sea.
Though no cruise itineraries were impacted during the actual storms, several lines are stepping forward to offer aid -- both to the regions in which they sail and countries from which crewmembers hail.
U.K.-based Fred. Olsen, whose fleet is staffed prominently by Filipino crew, is providing financial help to victims in Manila (a monetary amount has not yet been disclosed). Passengers can get involved, too: Fred. Olsen has said that because a number of customers have expressed concern and asked how they can help, the cruise line has established a fund through which passengers can donate money to benefit flood victims related to the line's crewmembers. Posters are being displayed on all ships to inform current passengers that they can donate via their onboard accounts.
Fred. Olsen is advising others who would like to contribute to send a cheque directly to the company's Ipswich offices (click here for the address). Please include a short covering note addressed to Deborah Moore, who is coordinating donations.
Donations will be distributed through Fred. Olsen's crew agency based in the bay area of Manila.
Star Cruises, headquartered in Hong Kong, also employs many Filipino workers, and Star's president David Chua has already paid a visit to Manila to assess the aftermath of the damage caused by the typhoon. In response, the cruise line has now started a campaign to donate to the region. Staff in the head office in Hong Kong can make any donation they wish to the campaign.
P&O Cruises Australia -- which offers cruises around impacted South Pacific islands -- has donated pillows and bedding to Samoa. The line has also said it will be sending out light bulbs to the area.
Princess Cruises will also be doing its bit -- the Princess Cruises Community Foundation will be making a $10,000 donation to the Red Cross for Samoa and American Samoa relief efforts.
Meanwhile, passengers and crew can also make a donation through the "You Make a Difference" Globe at the Passenger Services Desk, and all funds collected on the current voyage will be sent to disaster relief organisations on behalf of Sun Princess and Star Princess -- which both sail South Pacific itineraries.
Princess will be offloading relief supplies in Apia and Pago Pago during calls this week.
For anyone looking to donate to either of the relief efforts, you can contact The British Red Cross in the U.K. or The American Red Cross in the U.S.
--by Kelly Ranson, U.K. Editor
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Cruise Lines Lend Helping Hand to Flood, Tsunami Victims
October 8, 2009