P&O Cruises today announced it will launch its latest superliner, Pacific Pearl, in Auckland, in an historic first which recognises the growing popularity of cruising in New Zealand.
The 63,500-tonne, 1800-passenger superliner will be christened in Auckland Harbour on 19 December next year, before commencing a summer season of six new cruises from the city.
Speaking in Auckland at the launch of the 2009-10 cruise season, Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia which operates P&O Cruises, said Pacific Pearl’s debut would represent the first time a cruise line had launched a superliner in New Zealand.
“Given New Zealand is driving so much of our growth we thought it only fitting that the fourth ship for our expanding fleet, Pacific Pearl, should be launched in Auckland,” Ms Sherry said.
Ms Sherry said this morning’s (Oct 16) arrival of Princess Cruises’ megaliner Star Princess in Auckland marked the start of the New Zealand cruise season which will see Carnival Australia bring a record 52,000 passengers to New Zealand on 11 ships sailing under five of its brands - P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Cunard, P&O World Voyages and Yachts of Seabourn.
Between them the ships will make a total of 158 port visits, 50 per cent up on last season and three times the number of visits made just five years ago.
Pacific Pearl, which is presently sailing in the UK Ocean Village fleet, will join P&O Cruises’ existing fleet of Pacific Dawn, Pacific Sun and Pacific Jewel, which will debut in Sydney this December.
Ms Sherry said the decision to base Pacific Pearl in Auckland for her inaugural season, rather than Sydney as originally proposed, meant that Pacific Sun would now sail from Sydney over the 2010-11 summer instead of Fremantle.
“Pacific Sun’s inaugural 2009-10 Fremantle season has sold extremely well so we know that West Australians are keen to cruise on our ships. However there is enormous demand for cruising from Sydney over the summer months so we need to deploy Pacific Sun there over the 2010-11 season to meet that demand,” Ms Sherry said.
Ms Sherry said P&O Cruises remained committed to developing Fremantle as a homeport and would be looking to sail from there again in future seasons.
Anthony Fisk / Sandy Olsen
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