24 Apr 2020

French cruise ship to ferry stranded Wallisians home

10:34 am on 24 April 2020

The French cruise ship Le Laperouse will be used to carry people to Wallis and Futuna who are now stranded in New Caledonia.

The Le Laperouse

The Le Laperouse Photo: Ponant

The ship has been anchored off New Caledonia for nearly two weeks after abandoning its 11-day voyage in New Zealand because of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Wallis and Futuna closed its borders to passenger flights in mid-March and had remained free of the virus.

The cruise ship is scheduled to make the first of two journeys from Noumea to Wallis on 6 May.

While it has a crew of 94, the Le Laperouse is expected to transport about 120 passengers each time.

The ship offloaded its passengers in Wellington in March when concern mounted that they would have trouble finding flights back to their home countries.

In New Caledonia, there have been 18 positive Covid-19 tests.