Update: Tour Cancelled as Ships Head to Melbourne

February 12, 2009
Update, 5 p.m. GMT: Holland America has told Cruise Critic that its Wildlife and Wineries shore excursion will be cancelled until further notice -- this includes Rotterdam's call tomorrow (Friday) and Volendam's call on 28 February. We'll keep you posted of any further changes.

As Holland America's Rotterdam prepares to arrive in Melbourne tomorrow, Friday, firefighters are continuing to tackles blazes outside the city.

Late last night, Holland America told Cruise Critic that its Wildlife and Wineries tour has been cancelled due to the tragic fires in the region which have killed at least 181 people. All other tours are on schedule.

Princess Cruises' Dawn Princess was also forced to cancel its winery tour last weekend.

P&O Cruises and Regent both have ships due into Melbourne next week, but at this point, neither line has made any changes to itineraries or excursions. However, both cruise lines offer tours to the wine regions or to the Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary, which have been impacted by the fires. These particular wine and wildlife tours could be the only excursions impacted by the fires -- but there are plenty of other trips you can take to see the region including a Melbourne city tour and a trip to the countryside and coastline of the Mornington Peninsula.

On the Australia and New Zealand Forum, members have been offering support to residents and those living in the area also giving advice to cruise travellers.

Yarra Yarra said: "I live in the Yarra Valley and the fires have been in our area. Smoke is also bad at times but the impact on visiting ships will be small as the tours most impacted could be those to the Healesville Sanctuary and vineyards in the Yarra Valley. We have friends that have lost everything and we are involved in the equine industry and many have lost their pasture, fences, horses and homes. My daughter has set up a horse feed bank and also collecting feed buckets and water containers which sounds so simple but needed badly. We will be on fire watch for a few more days yet but the impact will not be great on the cruise ships visiting Melbourne but should you come into Melbourne, donations to our Red Cross via any of our major banks would be appreciated."

We'll keep you posted.

--by Kelly Ranson, U.K. Editor

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