Australia’s leading cruise line P&O Cruises has celebrated a record year of local cruising with its expanded five ship fleet carrying almost half a million holidaymakers in its first year.
In the year since Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden debuted in the P&O fleet as part of an unprecedented five-ship spectacular on Sydney Harbour, the cruise line’s passengers have surged by 55 per cent with more than 460,000 guests welcomed onboard its five ships.
Since joining the P&O fleet, Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden have carried a total of 160,000 guests from seven regional ports - Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Fremantle, Cairns and Singapore - with the expansion of the fleet paving the way for the cruise line to pioneer new itineraries and destinations.
The introduction of the two ships allowed P&O to open Cairns as a homeport for the first time in September and saw the return of Asian cruise holidays with Pacific Eden offering a season from Singapore.
In 2016 alone, P&O cruised to 17 new ports with Pacific Eden making the bulk of the maiden calls including the first visits to Honiara and Gizo Island in the Solomon Islands; Sabang, Ujung Pandang, Jakarta and the fascinating volcano port of Probolinggo in Indonesia; Langkawi in Malaysia; Phuket, Krabi, Ko Chang and Koh Samui in Thailand and Cambodia’s Sihanoukville. P&O now visits more than 90 ports in the region.
The historic year kicked off on November 25 last year when Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden were welcomed into the fleet in a dual naming ceremony at Fort Denison, with thousands of Sydneysiders looking on as godmothers Kate Ritchie and Jessica Mauboy named the pair in a world first social media christening. The event brought together a record number of cruise ships from one fleet on Sydney Harbour with celebrations continuing throughout the day and night including live concerts from more than 25 music acts and a special fireworks display.
With entertainment required across five ships, 365 days a year, P&O hires 520 bands annually, making it one of the biggest employers of Australian entertainers.
P&O Cruises President Sture Myrmell said the addition of Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden marked a new era for Australian cruising.
“As Australia’s only homegrown cruise line, P&O is proud to be leading the way in local cruise innovations. Not only did Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden introduce a new contemporary look and feel for our cruise line, their arrival made it possible to extend our itinerary offering like never before and build a wide range of new destinations into our schedules,” Mr Myrmell said.“It was a big leap to expand our capacity by more than 50 per cent but we knew the demand was there and as Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden have cruised from ports right around Australia, their stylish look and exciting itineraries have helped to entice more Australians to take a cruise holiday.”