It was supposed to be a relaxing seven-day cruise sailing from Brisbane to the tropical South Pacific Ocean islands of New Caledonia and Vanuatu.
Instead, the P&O Pacific Aria headed straight into the path of a category 5 cyclone in what a class-action lawsuit against the cruise operators have dubbed the “cruise from hell”.
Firm Carter Capner Law has lodged the case against P&O’s parent company Carnival PLC for damages and a refund of fares.
Water violently sloshes about in the on-board pool during the so-called ‘cruise from hell’.
Carter Capner Law director Peter Carter said despite cyclone warnings issued prior to departure, passengers weren’t given the option to cancel.
“Before departure a cyclone warning had been issued for Vanuatu as had a forecast that the category 3 cyclone was heading in the direction of Noumea,” Mr Carter said.
The cruise, from Brisbane to Noumea and then on to Vanuatu, set sail on May 5, 2017, with the storm intensifying to category 5 on May 8.
“On arrival at Noumea the ship was required to dock in the industrial port due to the high winds rather than at the cruise ship terminal,” Mr Carter said.
“Nothing was open in the city as Noumea was in lockdown for the arrival of the cyclone, and several passengers left the ship in Noumea because of the terrible sea conditions they had experienced and flew back to Brisbane.”
Sea conditions off the side of the P&O Pacific Aria during the voyage, a far cry from what the passengers were expecting.
The ship departed Noumea the following day, with water coming over both sides of the vessel, forcing an entire deck to be closed.
“This was truly a cruise from hell, with many passengers so scared they confined themselves to their cabin,” Mr Carter said.
Passengers reported crockery thrown across the galley, meals tossed off tables, tables and chairs being overturned, bottles of wine and spirits falling off shelves and sliding across the deck, seawater running down corridors and into some cabins, and the ship listing for about an hour.
P&O’s Pacific Aria during more favourable weather conditions. Picture: Supplied
Video captured aboard the cruise also shows water in the on-board pool violently sloshing about during rough sea conditions,
The storm also forced the vessel to miss its next two intended stops.
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The claim seeks to recover damages from P&O for “disappointment, frustration, discomfort and distress and a refund of the cruise fare paid by each passenger” reads a release from Carter Capner Law.
NCA NewsWire has contacted Carnival Australia for comment.
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