Melbourne is set to attract a much greater share of Australia’s rapidly growing cruise industry, with P&O Cruises today announcing plans for its largest ever Victorian cruise program.
With 15 roundtrip cruises planned from the city, the record season is expected to inject close to $15 million into the local economy.
Unveiling its plans, P&O Cruises said its superliner Pacific Jewel would be based in Melbourne from December 2015 to February 2016, with one of the cruise line’s two latest ships – Pacific Eden – sailing from the city from February to March 2016.
The four-month Melbourne season will feature P&O Cruises’ first sailings from the city to the Pacific Islands, along with the introduction of more short-break cruises. In a yuletide special, P&O Cruises will also offer its first ever Christmas and New Year cruises from Melbourne.
The Victorian deployment is a highlight of P&O Cruises’ new 2015-16 program which features 250 cruises from eight different homeports across its expanded five-ship fleet, following next year’s addition of Pacific Eden and Pacific Aria.
“Adding two more ships to the P&O Cruises’ fleet has opened the way for us to offer Victorians a fantastic range of cruises which we think will be real winners, particularly with family groups and young couples,” said Ann Sherry, CEO of P&O Cruises.
“Holidaymakers will now be able to choose from longer cruises like our Christmas escape to the South Pacific through to shorter getaways to beautiful Australian destinations like Kangaroo Island,” Ms Sherry said. “It’s a great schedule which we think will appeal to adventure-seekers and explorers.”
Key features of the Melbourne season include:
- a 12-night Melanesian Discovery cruise over Christmas
- a 10-night night New Year cruise visiting Burnie, Robe, Port Lincoln, Adelaide, Kangaroo Island and Portland
- a 15-night cruise visiting Norfolk Island as well as popular Vanuatu and New Caledonia ports
- three new four-night P&OSeaBreaks visiting Kangaroo Island
- a four-night cruise to Sydney for Australia Day 2016
- four themed P&OSeaBreaks.
Fares start at $649 per person quad share for a four-night P&OSeaBreak Kangaroo Island cruise on Pacific Eden and $1599 per person quad share for a 10-night New Year cruise on Pacific Jewel.
Victoria Minister for Tourism and Major Events Louise Asher said P&O Cruises' decision to expand its cruise program from Melbourne was a welcome step and a display of confidence in Victoria's vibrant tourism sector.
"It not only confirms Melbourne's attraction as a cruise destination but also its potential as a cruising gateway to regional, interstate and South Pacific destinations.
"Melbourne is already attracting an increasing number of cruise ships for special events such as the Melbourne Cup and the Australian Tennis Open but there is now potential for a greater share of the fly-cruise market, where cruise passengers fly in to join ships departing on cruises from the city.
"Achieving Melbourne's potential as a cruising hub means that tourism sector suppliers such as hotels, restaurants and transport operators stand to see the spin-off economic benefits."
P&O Cruises sources the majority of its food and beverage from Australian suppliers and Victorian suppliers are among those who benefit. In a typical year, P&O Cruises buys 380,000 kilograms of beef, 160,000 kilograms of lettuce and 600,000 kilograms of potatoes from Victorian suppliers.
Ms Sherry said the cruise line was pleased that Melbourne would increasingly benefit from the long value chain of cruising as it continues to grow as a result of P&O Cruises’ expansion.
“P&O Cruises’ expansion to a five-ship fleet with the largest number of cruise ships homeported year round in Australia will help the industry achieve its goal of a million passengers in 2015, five years earlier than forecast,” Ms Sherry said.