The P&O Cruises Australia ship Pacific Explorer has dramatically altered its current itinerary due to the development of multiple storm systems, including Tropical Cyclone Ilsa, off Australia’s western coast.
The ship was unable to reach two of its three scheduled ports of call, but did double up on its first port of call and all guests are being provided with onboard credit as compensation for the alterations.
Tropical Weather Impacting Pacific Explorer
The Sun-class Pacific Explorer is homeported year-round from different Australian and New Zealand homeports, and is currently sailing from Fremantle (Perth) in southwestern Australia. The ship set sail on Saturday, April 8, 2023, for a 9-night “Kimberley Coast Adventure” cruise with three ports of call: Exmouth, Kimberley Coast, and Broome.
On Monday, April 10, the ship was able to call at Exmouth as planned, but severe tropical weather was forecast to impact areas further north, right along the ship’s planned itinerary.
In keeping with safety procedures and to safeguard the passengers, crew, and ship, it was decided not to proceed to the next ports of call, and instead Pacific Explorer called again at Exmouth on Wednesday, April 10, to provide passengers with more tour options and excursions, though such choices were limited.
Unfortunately, choosing a southern route with different ports of call was also impractical, as a separate low-pressure system developed off Australia’s southwestern coast, impacting additional port cities.
The cruise line’s Customer Communications team reached out to guests onboard to communicate the problems and share the current course of action.
“We have been exploring various options to provide an additional port of call, however with two active weather systems this has proven not to be possible,” the email read. “Unfortunately, the only option is to return to Fremantle vaia slower, more indirect route to avoid the worst of the weather systems.”
Tracking data currently shows the ship’s somewhat erratic course for the past two days, as it first nudged to the southwest before returning to Exmouth for the second time, then turned much further out to sea before heading southeast on course for Fremantle.
Guests onboard are being kept updated on the situation, and the ship’s planned arrival back in Fremantle on Monday, April 27, is not impacted.
The current sailing is Pacific Explorer‘s first departure from Fremantle this year, the ship having just repositioned from Adelaide with a 5-night one-way trip April 3-8. The vessel will remain in Fremantle until mid-May, when she will move to Cairns until the end of June, and after that, the ship will move to Auckland, New Zealand, until the end of November.
It is not uncommon for poor weather to impact cruise itineraries, either by shortening or cancelling ports of call or, more rarely, by diverting entire itineraries. Cruise lines do seek to find replacement ports of call, but this is not always possible due to distance, sailing conditions, or port schedules.
It is quite unusual for a cruise ship to be “sandwiched” between two storm systems, but safety is always the first priority and a cruise ship can easily sail away from the worst weather to provide a calmer experience for guests on board.
Read Also: How a Hurricane Could Affect Your Cruise
In this case, P&O Cruises Australia is still offering limited compensation to guests for the dramatically altered cruise. “While weather is out of our control, we are committed to delivering the best possible experience to our guests onboard,” the email explained.
All guests were provided with $125 of non-refundable onboard credit, which can be used anywhere on the ship other then for casino gambling or medical center charges. Drinks, dining, souvenirs, photos, spa treatments, and other onboard charges can all be paid for with the onboard credit.
Pacific Explorer is the smallest of the three ships in the P&O Cruises Australia fleet, weighing in at just 77,499 gross tons. She is the fleet’s flagship, and was notable as the first cruise ship in the world to return to Australian waters and resume operations in the region after the industry-wide shutdown.
Pacific Explorer can welcome 1,998 guests aboard for each sailing, with approximately 900 international crew members to provide memorable service.