Virgin’s Maiden Voyage leaves Fremantle stirred not shaken – and other Cruise News!

Resilient Lady, Virgin Voyages’ Cruise Ship made her maiden voyage into Fremantle last week.

Resilient Lady, Fremantle. Credit Jean Hudson

Her visit created quite a stir, but life goes on in good old Freo Town. Made me think of the catchphrase – ‘stirred, not shaken’ versus ‘shaken, not stirred’ in the James Bond movie Casino Royale in which Bond, after losing millions of dollars at a poker game, is asked if he wants his martini shaken or stirred and he snaps, ‘Do I look like I give a damn?’

The Lady was one of the largest cruise ship calls this season with over 2,000 ‘sailors’ on board (that’s what passengers are called on Virgin ships). Read our much read report ‘Like a Virgin, Fremantle for the Very First Time’.

Fremantle was the only WA port stop for Resilient Lady on her current voyage: she then headed to Mauritius, where she is as of today.

Let’s hope no one gets left behind when she departs the island. Two weeks ago eight cruise passengers, including two Australians, were left behind on the island of São Tomé in the Gulf of Guinea, about 250km off the coast of Gabon. The passengers missed their departure time from the island after disembarking the Norwegian Dawn, operated by Norwegian Cruise Lines, to take a local tour.

The vessel was on a three-week cruise from Cape Town to Barcelona. The group’s private day excursion on the island ran overtime, and despite the efforts of the local coast guard, which motored the group to the ship before it set sail, the captain would not allow the late guests to board. The stranded guests had their passports returned to them but all their personal belongings including medication and bankcards stayed on board. The group reportedly travelled through six countries and eventually met the ship in Dakar, Senegal, the final West African port of its journey.

There’s a lesson to be learned here – it is the passenger’s responsibility to be back on board the ship no later than the published time, before the ship’s scheduled departure time. This is clearly stated in the cruise ships terms and conditions.

Resilient Lady then sails around the coast of Africa to Europe via the Panama Canal – let’s hope she makes it through. The Panama Canal’s water level is at an all time low. Prolonged drought has triggered a backlog of ships waiting to pass through the waterway, which handles 5% of world trade. The bottleneck at the canal connecting the Pacific and Atlantic oceans has worsened since the closure of the Suez Canal in recent months.

We may not see Resilient Lady back in Fremantle for a very long time, as Virgin Voyages will not be visiting Australia for the foreseeable future. Cruise ship companies are cancelling and amending trips through the Red Sea and Suez Canal as attacks on ships by Houthi rebels continue.

P&O’s Pacific Explorer on the other hand will be spending lots of time in and out of Fremantle over the coming months with over 12,000 guests enjoying a variety of cruises departing from Fremantle during April and May. Itineraries include an 80s’ 3-night themed cruise, a Comedy 3-night themed cruise, a 4-night cruise to Exmouth, a 10-night Kimberley Coast Adventure cruise visiting Exmouth, Kuri Bay (Kimberley Coast), Broome and Geraldton.

Here she is on her arrival in Fremantle on 4 April.

Credit P&O Cruises

Pacific Explorer will be back in Freo on 15 April arriving at 4.30am and departing at 4pm.

STORY by Jean Hudson @jeansodyssey. Jean is our Shipping Correspondent and also a regular feature writer and photographer here on the Shipping News. You may like to follow up her informative Places I Love stories, as well as other feature stories and Freo Today photographs, right here.


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