March 6, 2020
(Updated 8:30 a.m. AEST) -- The list of South Pacific cruise ports closing or restricting access to cruise passengers continues to grow due to fears of novel coronavirus. For the latest updates, please see Coronavirus: Which Cruise Ports are Closed?
The issue began in February when tribal chiefs in New Caledonia decided to close the ports of Lifou, Mare and Isle of Pines. This move was soon followed by Tonga, where the public health minister denied entry to three cruise ships (Crystal Serenity, Columbus and Astor) that were due to visit Nuku'alofa.
Over the next month, the Cook Islands and Samoa also banned cruise ships. Other Pacific islands allowed ships but certain passengers were not permitted in the port. Fiji, Vanuatu, Indonesia (including Bali), Micronesia, Australia and New Zealand are among the destinations denying entry to select visitors.
Other ports in countries such as Tahiti are turning away some ships.
The closures and restrictions are affecting multiple South Pacific cruises from Australia as well as world voyages on international lines including Silversea, Windstar, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Princess and P&O. Ships are either diverting to replacement ports or offering compensation in the form of onboard credit.
Meanwhile, cruise companies are in constant communication with the local chiefs to attempt to find a solution to the disruptions. A spokesperson for Carnival Australia said: "We are continuing our dialogue with the island community leaders."
The South Pacific is not the only region shutting its shores; several Asian, Caribbean and European ports have closed to all cruise ship traffic or are denying access to people who have recently been in certain countries.
In many cases, the decisions by these destinations are made without any consultation with cruise lines.
Cruise Critic continues to monitor the situation and provide daily updates about cruise cancellations and itinerary changes, as well as which cruise lines have modified cancellation policies for better flexibility.