P&O Cruises Australia’s Pacific Explorer assisted a yacht in distress on Sunday, September 24, 2023, rescuing one individual and remaining nearby to monitor the small vessel as the Fijian navy continued recovery efforts in poor weather conditions.
A second individual aboard the yacht survived the incident, but a third unfortunately did not.
At approximately 7 p.m. on Sunday evening, September 24, 2023, Pacific Explorer received a distress call from a disabled yacht located roughly 300 miles (483 kilometers) southwest of Nadi, Fiji. At the time, Pacific Explorer was due east of the yacht and the closest vessel recorded in the area.
The cruise ship diverted course to search for the vessel and render assistance, arriving on scene at approximately 1 a.m. and locating the yacht 45 minutes later. The yacht had a broken mast with a damaged sail and was freely drifting.
One individual from the yacht was able to be brought aboard the cruise ship via winch for medical assistance, but another was not because they could not be transferred to the larger vessel in their condition.
You can watch a video of the rescue operation, which was posted by Ali Gilchrist:
Sadly, a third person onboard the yacht was already deceased prior to Pacific Explorer‘s arrival. The cause of death has not yet been determined, but local authorities are conducting an investigation.
Poor weather also contributed to the difficulty of the rescue. Pacific Explorer remained nearby throughout the night, monitoring the yacht while waiting for conditions to improve and other rescue vessels to arrive.
By late afternoon on Monday, September 25, two additional support vessels had arrived and Pacific Explorer was released from the operation at approximately 4 p.m. The Royal Fijian Navy vessel Savenaca was able to rescue the other survivor, while another privately-owned vessel, The Beast, also arrived to assist as needed.
Carnival Australia, the parent company of P&O Cruises Australia, made a brief statement acknowledging and praising the rescue efforts.
“We’d like to take this opportunity to thank our crew, led by Captain Alan Nixon, for their immense efforts in very poor conditions, as well as our guests onboard for their understanding,” the statement read.
As a result of the cruise ship’s rescue diversion, Pacific Explorer missed its scheduled visit to Suva, Fiji on Monday, but will enjoy Tuesday’s call to Port Denarau on the island’s west coast. The ship is currently sailing an 8-night “Fiji Encounter” cruise that departed Auckland, New Zealand on Friday, September 22. After Port Denarau, the ship will also visit Dravuni.
At this time, there are no other planned changes to the ship’s remaining itinerary, and Pacific Explorer should return to Auckland on Saturday, September 30, as scheduled.
Pacific Explorer is the oldest ship in P&O Cruises Australia’s fleet, having been built in 1997 as Dawn Princess for Princess Cruises. The 77,400-gross ton vessel was refurbished, rebranded, and entered service with P&O Cruises Australia in 2017.
The ship can welcome 1,998 guests for each sailing, and just over 900 crew members are also onboard to offer spectacular service. Pacific Explorer is currently homeported from Auckland, offering a variety of New Zealand and South Pacific itineraries visiting destinations such as Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, and more.
In early December, the ship will reposition to Melbourne, Australia for southern Australia and Tasmania itineraries.
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