Update: Will Fires Affect Australia Cruises?

February 10, 2009
Update, 8 a.m. EST: The wildfires that began tearing across southern Australia this past weekend still continue to be deadly; according to media reports, nearly 200 people have died. And even though this is high season for cruise travel in Melbourne, cruises visiting Melbourne, the closest port to the affected area, have not been impacted at this point.

P&O Australia, which operates two ships in the region, has not been impacted, again at least of yet. That's because Pacific Dawn is currently headed to Fiji and does not return back to Australia (Sydney) until February 20. Pacific Sun is in Auckland, with a return to Brisbane this weekend. Neither are due close to Melbourne anytime soon.

(9 February 2009) -- Holland America's Rotterdam is the next ship due into Melbourne, on Friday; P&O, Princess and Regent are on schedule to call next week. At this point, cruise line representatives tell us that no changes have been made to itineraries due to the fires. However, shore excursions to areas inland could be impacted. For example, Princess offers tours to Yarra Valley, one of Australia's premium wine districts, where fires have broken out and are scorching wineries.

Host Sheila posts on Cruise Critic's Australia & New Zealand forum: "Thought I'd let you know, while I'm in the vicinity of Melbourne, of the terrible fires in Victoria ... many homes lost, and the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, which recently opened a burn unit, is caring for more than 20 serious burn victims. Friends of mine who had planned a Yarra Valley wine tour today could not go to that area."

Cruise Critic is monitoring the situation and will keep you posted.