P&O Australia Swine Flu Cruise Remains at Sea

May 29, 2009
Pool on P&O Australia's Pacific Dawn

P&O Australia's Pacific Dawn, which has completely altered its current itinerary since three crewmembers were diagnosed with swine flu, continues to skip ports of call.

The ship, with 33 British passengers aboard, originally set off on Monday for a 10-night Queensland voyage; plans were to visit Whitsundays, Cairns, Port Douglas, Willis Island and Brisbane before returning to Sydney on 4 June. At this point, however, the ship has remained at sea (aside from a brief stop at Gladstone in North Queensland to drop off five swabs for testing).

Pacific Dawn will, however, make its Brisbane call (three days early), and the stop will be anything but ordinary. According to the Brisbane Times, passengers from Brisbane who want to leave the cruise early will be permitted to debark and will be screened for swine flu symptoms, according to Queensland Premier Anna Bligh. Other passengers will not be permitted to debark.

Ironically, despite all of the international hullaballoo Pacific Dawn's swine flu cruise has received, no other passengers or crewmembers have tested positively for the H1N1 virus. The trio of crew continue to stay in isolation, even though all three have recovered.

Plans are afoot for screening passengers when the ship does return to Sydney, three days ahead of schedule, but no specifics have been revealed.

Passengers on the swine flu cruise will be compensated for the disruption, according to a statement on P&O Australia's Web site. Each passenger will receive a 75 percent reimbursement of his or her cruise fare and an additional 25 percent that can be used as credit?toward a future cruise. This is in addition to $100 in onboard credit they have already received.

--by Kelly Ranson, U.K. Editor