Australia is experiencing one of the worst bushfires on record. Months of wildfires have incinerated nearly 11 million hectares, burnt more than 2,200 homes and resulted in the death of 29 people and as many as half a billion animals.
As firefighters continue to battle the raging flames across the country, many cruise lines have stepped up and offered donations to support emergency relief efforts.
The lines have also united with other tourism sectors in planning and donating for the recovery of communities impacted by fires, the industry trade body Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), has said.
Among those is Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd, which has committed $250,000 AUD (£132,868) to the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund to support emergency relief efforts.
“We are saddened by the devastation caused by the ongoing bushfires in Australia,” said Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd president and CEO Frank Del Rio.“Our $250,000 AUD donation to the Australian Red Cross will go directly to relief and recovery efforts for those affected by these historic fires.”
Carnival Foundation, Carnival Corp’s philanthropic arm, and five of its global cruise line brands together with the Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation, have pledged over $1.25 million (£964 million) to support disaster recovery efforts.
“Our cruise lines carried hundreds of thousands of Aussies and international guests on voyages this summer, and this gesture is a sign of solidarity with the local community,” commented Carnival Australia president Sture Myrmell.
“As a cruise shipping organisation with close ties to Australian communities developed over many years, we have been shocked by the devastation from this ongoing disaster.
Carnival Corporation, its Cruise Line Brands and the Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation Pledge Over $1.25 Million to Australian Bushfire Disaster Recovery. Read more: https://t.co/fEDV1GawSP
— Carnival Corporation (@CarnivalPLC) January 9, 2020
“Communities affected by the bushfire crisis are in immediate need, and we are pleased to be able to contribute in a way that ensures help can be delivered where it is needed most and as quickly as possible.
“The contribution is being made on behalf of all of our guests who are no doubt equally shocked and concerned at what has happened to their fellow Australians.”
The latest cruise line to offer help is Australian company APT, which has donated $100,000 (£52,000) to the bushfire appeal. The money has been donated via the group’s One Tomorrow Charitable Fund. In addition, any monies raised through staff activities will also be match funded.
APT’s UK & Europe managing director, Paul Melinis, said: “We are all deeply saddened by the current bushfire tragedy unfolding across Australia and our thoughts are with all those who have impacted.
“I’m pleased to share that through our One Tomorrow Charitable Fund, we have made a donation of $100,000 (£52,000) towards the bushfire appeal which will assist wildlife and the affected communities.
Any additional fundraising undertaken by staff is also being matched by the fund. Going forward, we are committed as a business to our ongoing support of tourism and travel into these affected areas, supporting the people, the communities and Australia as an outstanding holiday destination.”
Major cities such as Sydney and Melbourne are unaffected by fires, other than periods of smoke haze, as are most other cruise ports around Australia.
CLIA has confirmed that all major cruise lines in the region are operating as scheduled and that most cruise destinations are unaffected by the fires.
“Cruise lines are monitoring the situation in Australia closely and if required can adjust itineraries to avoid areas affected by fire,” said CLIA UK & Ireland director Andy Harmer.
“The safety of guests is always paramount. Cruise lines will also consider whether itinerary changes are necessary to avoid placing pressure on regions dealing with emergencies.”
For information on the Australian Red Cross and ways to offer support, visit redcross.org.au/.