UPDATE: See our latest blog post for more information about cruise schedule changes as a result of Cyclone Winston.
The beautiful islands of Fiji were devastated over the weekend by Cyclone Winston, a monster storm which had already wreaked havoc on Tonga. The death toll has now reached ten, with extensive damage to homes and infrastructure. The country has declared a month-long state of disaster.
Saturday night brought winds reaching 296kph, in a record-breaking cyclone. People on the islands were warned to expect hurricane-force gusts, flooding and heavy rains, and hunkered down for a night of winds which tore through houses, crops, trees and more. Flights to and from the island nation were grounded over the weekend, tourists evacuated from some outlying resort islands, and ships within 300 nautical miles of the storm asked to check in every three hours.
Picking up after Cyclone WinstonWith the worst of the weather now past, the country will be picking themselves up and beginning the recovery and grieving process. The families of those killed will have a hard road ahead of them especially, but the strong spirit of the Pacific people, as displayed in Vanuatu last year, has seen them through the aftermath of many a storm.
Fiji's schools will be closed this week, and the Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has declared a state of emergency for 30 days. The Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism has assured global onlookers that all tourists have been accounted for and are safe, with very little structural damage to Fiji's many resorts. Flights will resume today (Monday).
The Fijian government has also put out a call to private sector companies operating in the country to join in the effort and donate relief items including water, building materials, clothes, water tanks, bedding and more. The Red Cross is responding to the natural disaster, and anyone wishing to help can donate to their Cyclone Winston Appeal.
Cruising to Fiji?The Pacific Pearl sets sail today from Auckland heading towards Fiji, and will depart on schedule but monitor weather and the situation in Fiji to decide whether the itinerary will remain as planned - there is a possibility that two of three planned Fijian calls could go ahead.
More ships are set to visit Fiji in the coming month, including the Carnival Spirit, Carnival Legend, Legend of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas. There are no updates yet about changes to their itineraries, but keep an eye out for more information if you are booked on one of these.