Company History

Company History

Major events in the Australasian cruise market


  • P&O Cruises' TSS Strathaird made her first cruise from Sydney to Norfolk Island carrying 1100 passengers. (Srathaird is pictured in Brisbane in 1932 courtesy of the State Library of Queensland)


  • More than one million United Kingdom migrants caught their very first glimpse of their new Australian homeland from P&O Cruises’ ships. Known as Ten Pound Poms, this mass arrival was a scheme devised by the Australian and British Governments to help populate Australia.
  • During the 1950s, Holland America Line’s ss Volendam & ss Groote Beer also form part of the post-war fleet bringing European migrants to Australia.


  • Princess Cruises bases its first seasonal ship in Australia, with the original ‘Loveboat’, the Pacific Princess, cruising from Sydney over the summer


  • P&O Cruises acquires Sitmar cruises, consisting of the former Cunarders Fairwind and Fairsea (later Fair Princess), Fairstar and the Fairsky.


  • Maiden Australian visit of P&O Cruises World Cruising’s Oriana, heralding a new age of superliners.


  • P&O Cruises welcomes Pacific Sky to its fleet.
  • P&O Cruises’ office consists of just over 150 employees.


  • Maiden Australian visit of P&O Cruises World Cruising’s new Aurora, which at 76,000 tonnes is the largest ship to ever visit Australia.


  • Princess Cruises bases the ‘new’ Pacific Princess in Sydney for six months, the first Princess ship with an onboard currency in Australian dollars and itineraries designed specifically for Australians.
  • P&O Cruises bases Pacific Sky in Auckland for the brand’s first ever season cruising from New Zealand.


  • Carnival Corporation announces merger with P&O Princess Cruises plc, creating the world’s first global cruise operator.
  • Princess Cruises’ 108,000-tonne Star Princess makes her maiden visit to Australia – claiming the mantle of the largest ship ever to visit Down Under.


  • Pacific Sky is joined by Pacific Sun (ex Jubilee from Carnival Cruise Lines) to be based year round in Sydney as part of P&O Cruises’ fleet.
  • Pacific Sky becomes the first cruise ship to be based in Brisbane.
  • Carnival Australia is formed.
  • Princess Cruises’ new 116,000-tonne Sapphire Princess visits Australia, becoming the youngest and largest ship ever to call Down Under.


  • P&O Cruises continue to dominate the cruising industry in Australia with the debut of Pacific Star (ex Costa Tropicale) to be based in Brisbane.
  • Holland America Line’s maiden season from Australia begins


  • Queen Mary 2's maiden visit Down Under sees the Cunard flagship claiming the title of the largest ship ever to visit Australia.  Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2 have a memorable Royal Rendezvous in Sydney Harbour.
  • Ann Sherry appointed Carnival Australia CEO.
  • P&O Cruises’ first superliner, Pacific Dawn, debuts in Sydney.
  • P&O Cruises celebrates its 75th anniversary of cruising, now carrying more than 400,000 passengers annually on scores of voyages to the Pacific Islands.
  • Sun Princess becomes the first Princess Cruises’ ship to be deployed in Australia full time.


  • Princess Cruises’ Dawn Princess is deployed in Australia full time, joining Sun Princess.
  • Princess Cruises bases its first ship in Melbourne, becoming the first cruise line to offer a full summer season of cruises from the Victorian capital.
  • Princess Cruises operates its first world cruise sailing roundtrip from Australia.
  • P&O Cruises announces its partnership with Australian celebrity chef Luke Mangan – the first such offering in the Australian market.
  • Queen Elizabeth 2 pays her final visit to Australia, while Queen Victoria makes her maiden visit Down Under. The two Cunard ships stage an historic Royal Rendezvous in Sydney Harbour 


  • Pacific Jewel joins the P&O Cruises’ fleet.
  • Carnival Australia receives the Outstanding Workplace Flexibility award from the Australian Government’s Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA).
  • P&O Cruises World Cruising’s new Arcadia makes its maiden Australian visit.


  • Pacific Pearl joins the P&O Cruises fleet in December 2010.
  • Seabourn Odyssey makes her maiden visit to Australia – the first of three new ultra-luxury ships planned for the cruise line.


  • Cunard’s newest ship, Queen Elizabeth, makes her maiden visit to Australia, meeting Queen Mary 2 in Sydney in another Royal Rendezvous.
  • Holland America Line and Seabourn establish a full sales and marketing operation in Sydney at Carnival Australia’s head office at North Sydney.
  • Holland America’s ms Oosterdam makes her maiden visit to Australia, commencing the first of three seasonal deployments Down Under
  • The world’s largest cruise operator, Carnival Cruise Line announces it will enter the Australian market under the Carnival Australia umbrella in October 2012.
  • Seabourn Sojourn makes her maiden visit to Australia.


  • P&O Cruises celebrates 80 years of cruising out of Australia.
  • Carnival Australia pioneers Mare in the Loyalty Islands as the latest destination for cruise passengers in the Pacific Islands.
  • Queen Mary 2 undertakes her first circumnavigation of Australia.
  • Carnival Spirit debuts in Australia in October.


  • White Bay Cruise Terminal opens in Balmain to replace the temporary facility at Barangaroo.
  • New cruise terminal at Queen's Wharf opens in Auckland, New Zealand.
  • P&O Cruises makes maiden dedicated cruise to Papua New Guinea
  • Seabourn Quest makes her maiden visit to Australia.


  • Two P&O ships celebrate Australia Day in Sydney Harbour for the first time
  • P&O Cruises World Cruising unveils new ‘Union Jack’ livery for its fleet
  • Carnival Cruise Line and Sydney’s Lord Nelson Brewery unveil the region’s first cruise beer
  • P&O announces a second ship is to be based in Brisbane reflecting Queensland’s growth as a source market
  • Carnival Legend makes its maiden visit to Sydney for its first extended summer season of cruising from the city, joining Carnival Spirit which is based here year round
  • Holland America Line deploys ms Noordam to Australia for the summer cruise season, replacing ms Oosterdam


  • Golden Princess arrives in Australia for its maiden season of cruises from Melbourne
  • A record three P&O ships berth in Sydney Harbour for Australia Day celebrations
  • Carnival Australia ships carry out relief effort after Cyclone Pam’s devastation in Vanuatu
  • Princess Cruises announces its new partnership with internationally renowned Australian chef Curtis Stone
  • P&O Cruises’ ‘Five Ship Spectacular’ in Sydney Harbour welcomes Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden to the P&O Cruises’ fleet
  • A record four Carnival Australia ships – three P&O and one Carnival Cruise Line – take 8000 passengers to the Melbourne Cup


  • A record four P&O ships berth in Sydney Harbour for Australia Day celebrations
  • P&O becomes the first cruise line to homeport a ship in Cairns, with Pacific Eden sailing from the city on nine cruises
  • P&O makes 16 maiden visits to new ports around Australia and the Asia Pacific
  • Princess Cruises’ Emerald Princess makes her maiden visit to Australia, and is based in Sydney for a five-month season of cruises


  • Seabourn Encore makes her maiden visit to Australia, becoming the newest and most luxurious cruise ship to be seasonally based in Australia.
  • Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 celebrates the 10th anniversary of her first visit to Australia with a Royal Rendezvous with Queen Elizabeth
  • P&O Cruises unveils new ‘Southern Cross’ livery
  • P&O Cruises’ Pacific Dawn is refurbished and receives the cruise line’s first water slides and waterpark
  • Princess Cruises announces its flagship Majestic Princess will be based in Australia for a summer season of cruising from September 2018
  • P&O Cruises’ Pacific Explorer debuts in Sydney.
  • P&O Cruises announces Golden Princess will join its fleet in 2020
  • Carnival Cruise Line announces it will increase its Australian operation to two full-time ships in 2020
  • Princess Cruises announces Ruby Princess will sail alongside Majestic Princess in Australian waters from 2020.


  • P&O Cruises announces fleet transformation with Pacific Adventure to join in 2020 along with a second Grand Class ship in 2021
  • Princess Cruises' flagship Majestic Princess arrives in Sydney Harbour along a spectacular 'runway of lights' ready for a six-month local cruise program
  • Cunard announces Queen Elizabeth will be based in Australia for a record two-month deployment in 2019 with cruises from Sydney and Melbourne
  • Bookings open for Carnival Splendor's homeporting in Australia
  • P&O Cruises sponsors the Vanuatu women's beach volleyball team in the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games where Vanuatu's first ever team medal is won
  • Carnival Australia welcomes news that it is 'full steam ahead' for the new Brisbane International Cruise Terminal
  • Carnival Cruise Line announces that Carnival Spirit will cruise year round from Brisbane from October 2020
  • Sun Princess to call Fremantle home as a record Princess Cruises' deployment in the west is announced
  • P&O Cruises marks its 85th anniversary year by announcing drought-stricken farmers will sail as the cruise line's guests on two cruises in December
  • P&O Cruises' Pacific Explorer is featured on a special Norfolk Island postage stamp
  • Carnival Australia brands headed for a record 2018-19 Australian cruise season with 696 ship calls generating $500 million in economic activity
  • Carnival Australia brands also set for a big New Zealand cruise season with ships making 405 calls generating $200 million in economic activity
  • Carnival Australia is recognised for its contribution to sharing the economic value of cruising with communities in the Pacific Islands


  • P&O Cruises prepared to farewell Pacific Eden and Pacific Jewel in March and April respectively in anticipation of fleet transformation with the arrival of Pacific Adventure in 2020 and a second Grand Class ship in 2021
  • Cunard announced that Queen Elizabeth -- after 54 days deployment in Australia in 2019 -- would return for 101 days in 2019-20 and 118 days in 2020-21.
  • Princess Cruises announced three major milestones for its three new ships currently under construction at the Fincantieri Shipyard in Italy
  • Cunard revealed an Australian inspired new uniform for its iconic bellboys in partnership with R M Williams and Akubra for Queen Elizabeth's deployment in Australia
  • Princess Cruises announced a second La Mer Restaurant by three-Michelin Star French chef Emmanuel Renaut would be on board the cruise line's new Ruby Princess.
  • Princess Cruises announces a record breaking 2020-2021 cruise program including the local debut of the 3560-guest Regal Princess and the return of Sapphire Princess.
  • Carnival Cruise Line celebrated a landmark achievement of one million passengers since the cruise line began operations in Australia in 2013 with the home porting of Carnival Spirit in Sydney.
  • P&O guests helping to save newborns in Papue New Guinea in a partnership between UNICEF and the P&O Pacific Partnership enabling parents to have a baby alarm that activates if an infant's body temperature drops suddenly.
  • Princess Cruises announces a new local oartnership in New Zealand with the initial focus on helping to protect native birdlife.
  • Carnival Australia announces one of its biggest ever cruise seasons with more than 600 port calls around Australia and the spectacular debut of Ruby Princess and Carnival Splendor.
  • P&O Cruises celebrates 50 years of cruising to the Melbourne Cup allowing guests to enjoy all the excitement of the race that stops a nation.
  • Ruby Princess arrives in Sydney to begin a fabulous season of cruising.
  • P&O Cruises announces features on the eagerly awaited Pacific Adventure including the exciting 'triple racer' waterslide.


  • P&O Cruises' Pacific Eden is the first cruise ship to return to Eden on the NSW South Coast following disastrous summer bushfires on Australia's east coast.
  • Cunard's Queen Elizabeth becomes the largest cruise ship to berth at the Cairns Cruise Terminal in the heart of the city following dredging of Trinity Inlet.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has dominated much of 2020 and Carnival Australia's cruise lines responded to this public health emergency by suspending cruise operations as part of a worldwide pause in cruising.
  • In July, Carnival Corporation and the World Travel and Tourism Council hosted a virtual Global Science Summit on COVID-19 to share the latest scientific knowledge and measures to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus.
  • Carnival Australia supports CLIA Australasia in its #wearecruise video campaign highlighting the economic impact of the pandemic on cruise tourism partners.
  • Princess Cruises advances the transition of Golden Priness and Star Princess to P&O Cruises Australia's fleet in P&O's ongoing fleet transformation.
  • P&O Cruises Australia farewells Pacific Dawn and Pacific Aria, both much loved ships that played a big part in the development of Australia's home grown cruise line.
  • Holland America Line changes the name of its newbuild to Rotterdam with the ship designated as the line's flagship.
  • The first steel is cut for Seabourn's second ultra luxury expedition ship.
  • Princess Cruises announces that guest favourites Sea Princess and Sun Princess are to be farewelled from the fleet.
  • Sea Princess third officer Max Bingle receives a prestigious maritime award for his part in the rescue of three seafarers in the Caribbean earlier in the year.
  • Carnival Australia President Sture Myrmell and colleagues visit Sydney area farms to highlight impact of thecruising suspension on suppliers of fresh produce.


  • P&O Cruises announces Pacific Encounter ready to begin her 'Australian story" as the line's fleet transformation continues.
  • Princess Cruises announces its 2022-23 cruise season including a new world voyage in 2023.
  • Eden on the Sapphire Coast of NSW is the first port featured in a P&O Cruises' project to higlight popular Australian cruise destinations.
  • The guest-funded P&O Pacific Partnership continues its support of the Vanuatu Women's Beach Volleyball team in their quest to represent their nation at the Tokyo Olympics.
  • P&O Cruises establishes a partnership with the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation following the announcement of the line's inaugural Pride cruise.
  • Carnival Australia hosts a delegation to Parliament House Canberra of fresh food producers, tour operators and entertainers to highlight the economic impact of the suspension of cruising.
  • Golden Princess enters dry dock in Italy to emerge as Pacific Adventure to comprise P&O Cruises' three-ship fleet. 


  • P&O Cruises, Princess and Carnival Cruise Line fleets resume cruising in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific following the pause in operations due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Guests were welcomed back by 56 communities for whom cruising is the key economic driver.
  • History was made as Pacific Explorer became the first cruise ship to berth at the new Brisbane International Cruise Terminal, which was underwritten by Carnival Australia through its long-term commitment. 
  • Princess Cruises’ Coral Princess became the first ship to be homeported at the new Brisbane International Cruise Terminal, later joined by P&O Cruises’ Pacific Encounter.
  • P&O Cruises continued its support for Vanuatu communities, including the Women’s Beach Volleyball team which won a Bronze Commonwealth Games medal at , boat operator safety training and equipment for the Aneityum community and Christmas gifts for local children. 
  • P&O Cruises launched its first Pride cruises in Australia from Sydney and Melbourne.
  • Carnival Australia transports 7600 guests to the Melbourne Cup on three cruise ships from Sydney.


  • P&O Cruises celebrates 90 years of cruising in Australia.
  • P&O's Pacific Explorer rescues solo rower Tom Robinson near Vanuatu after his boat overturned.
  • Final covid protocols on cruise ships removed


  • P&O launches new brand platform "Brings Us All Together"
  • P&O's Pacific Adventure and CCL's Carnival Splendor rescue 29 stranded Australians from Vanuatu after collapse of Air Vanuatu.