Following recent unrest in Noumea, New Caledonia, a French overseas territory located in the South Pacific, Carnival Cruise Line Australia has expressed concern regarding its upcoming voyages’ safety and operations.

The cruise line released a statement on social media emphasizing its proactive measures in response to the volatile situation taking place on the island nation, which has led to extensive rioting that has seen vehicles and businesses set ablaze and widespread looting.

“We are closely monitoring the situation in Noumea and surrounding areas, and are in contact with the relevant authorities both here and in New Caledonia,” Carnival Cruise Line Australia stated. “Should we need to make any changes to upcoming itineraries due to the current situation, we will notify guests and travel agents as soon as possible.”

Photo Credit: Jon Ingall / Shutterstock

The situation casts uncertainty over several scheduled cruises in the region, primarily those operated by Carnival Cruise Line and P&O Cruises, both subsidiaries of Carnival Corporation. These include multiple voyages set to visit Noumea in the coming days through the end of June.

Among the impacted sailings could be P&O Cruises’ 10-night “Discover Vanuatu” cruise aboard Pacific Adventure, which departed from Sydney on May 13, 2024. The 2,632-passenger ship is expected to call in Noumea on May 20 during the roundtrip sailing.

Similarly, Carnival Cruise Line’s 9-night “South Pacific” voyage aboard Carnival Splendor, which launches on May 19 from Sydney, includes multiple stops in New Caledonia. The 3,012-passenger ship is scheduled to arrive in Noumea on May 22 before visiting Mystery Island, Vanuatu, on May 23. It will then return to New Caledonia to call in Lifou on May 24 and Noumea again on May 25.

The Australian government, which has temporarily closed its embassy in Noumea, has issued a travel alert for New Caledonia.

“We continue to advise reconsider your need to travel for metropolitan Noumea due to civil unrest, travel disruptions and limited essential services. We continue to advise exercise a high degree of caution elsewhere in New Caledonia due to protests and travel disruptions.”

Noumea, a cruise stop that offers a unique blend of French elegance and Pacific Island charm, boasts beautiful bays, sunny beaches, and vibrant city life. It’s also the largest city on the island nation, its capital, and the administrative center.

The French government declared a state of emergency in New Caledonia on May 15 following a violent outbreak connected to a controversial electoral reform bill. The May 14 approved bill, created by French lawmakers, alters voting eligibility for provincial elections and permits French residents who have lived in the island nation for at least 10 years to vote.

Noumea, New Caledonia

Some perceive the bill as a means of diluting indigenous influence in local governance. The Kanaks represent the largest ethnic group in New Caledonia. Living in tribal societies governed by chieftains until New Caledonia became a French colony in 1853, the people continuously pushed for independence into the late 20th century.

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The current turmoil has led to tragic losses, with three Kanak and a police officer killed amidst the unrest. A curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. has been implemented, and La Tontouta International Airport, along with schools and government officers, have been closed. Additionally, France has banned the use of TikTok and public gatherings in an effort to control mob violence.

The state of emergency has been set for 12 days, extending into the dates P&O Cruises and Carnival Cruise Line are set to arrive with passengers.

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