CARNIVAL Australia has announced a raft of schedule changes for its cruise ships, brought on by wild weather from Tropical Cyclone Oma.

Cyclone Oma has been downgraded to a category one system but president of Carnival Australia and P & O Cruises Sture Myrmell said it could regenerate.

“The latest forecasts downgrading Cyclone Oma to a category one weather system are encouraging but it could again strengthen and we will continue to be vigilant keeping a watchful eye on it to keep our ships well away,” Mr Myrmell said.

The Pacific Explorer (P&O Cruises Australia) left Sydney on Thursday and sailed south in fair weather to the NSW Sapphire Coast (south coast) instead of a scheduled four-night cruise to Moreton Island.

Pacific Dawn (P&O Cruises Australia) is in Noumea in fair weather and is to make a delayed return to Brisbane avoiding the weather system. Its scheduled three-night cruise from Brisbane on Saturday has been cancelled. 

Sea Princess (Princess Cruises) has remained in Cairns and is to make a delayed return to Brisbane on Tuesday afternoon. Sun Princess (Princess Cruises) was due to sail from Sydney on Saturday on a Queensland coastal itinerary that is now under review.

Carnival Spirit (Carnival Cruise Line) was due to leave Sydney on Saturday on a cruise to Moreton Island but is to instead sail south to Phillip Island in Victoria.

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Mr Myrmell said Queensland was one of Australia’s fastest growing cruise markets, so it was no surprise a number of ships would need to respond to the weather system.

“Where cruise itinerary changes have become necessary our cruise lines have focused on delivering excellent guest experiences. Destinations such as the Sapphire Coast and Phillip Island in Victoria are attractive in their own right.”

While Tropical Cyclone Oma is no longer expected to cross the coast, it is set to pounding the southern Queensland coast for several days with high tides, surf and damaging winds.

The current track map shows the system moving slowly south until Saturday, before turning back in a northerly direction, remaining off-shore.

Cyclone and flood watches have been cancelled.

Queensland state manager Bruce Gunn said Cyclone Oma was a very large cyclone and is forecast to re-intensify to category 2 strength and maintain this strength for some time.

“We will certainly continue to keep a close eye on this cyclone, until it no longer poses a threat,” he said.

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