Cairns is on its way to realising its potential as northern Australia’s cruising hub, with P&O Cruises today announcing that one of its latest ships will be homeported in the city for a two-month season.
In a move expected to deliver more than $4 million in economic benefits to the region, the 1500-passenger Pacific Eden – part of P&O Cruises’ expanded five-ship fleet – will become the first cruise ship ever to be based in Cairns when it arrives in the city in September 2016.
Pacific Eden’s Cairns deployment is expected to appeal to intra and interstate travellers as well as local holidaymakers, with Cairns’ accommodation operators, restaurants and travel operators all benefiting as passengers fly to the city to join their cruises.
Unveiling its plans, P&O Cruises said Cairns was perfectly placed as the starting point for cruises to exotic destinations such as the islands of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
“We have always seen Cairns as a cruising hot spot with great potential and Pacific Eden’s mid-range size means she will be able to berth at the cruise terminal right in the heart of the city,” P&O Cruises CEO Ann Sherry said.
“The terminal is a spectacular starting point for a cruise holiday but we still believe that the proposed dredging of Trinity Inlet is essential so that Cairns can cater for larger cruise ships to realise its full potential as a major cruise hub,” Ms Sherry said.
Pacific Eden’s Cairns season from September to November 2016 will feature eight roundtrip cruises including:
- Four seven-night cruises to the islands of Papua New Guinea visiting the beautiful ports of Alotau, Kitava Island, Kiriwina Island, Doini Island, and Kawanasausau Strait and Milne Bay (scenic cruising)
- Two 10-night cruises to the islands of Papua New Guinea visiting Alotau, Kitava Island, Rabaul, Gizo Island and Honiara in the Solomon Islands
- An 11-night Pacific cruise to Vanuatu
- A three-night comedy-themed P&OSeaBreak cruise ideal for first time cruisers.
Fares start from $949pp quad share for a seven-night cruise to Papua New Guinea.
The Cairns season is a major highlight of P&O Cruises’ record-breaking 2015-16 program, which features 250 cruises from eight different homeports across its fleet which will expand to five ships in November 2016 with the addition of Pacific Eden and Pacific Aria.
Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said the proposed cruise program demonstrated confidence in Cairns’ ability to support a major cruise operation.
“It’s a bold move by P&O Cruises to base a ship in Cairns – even for a short period – and I congratulate the company on making this decision,” Cr Manning said.
“I’ve always been confident that Cairns could sustain an appropriately-sized cruise liner, as our location lends itself to a range of idyllic itineraries. And being a tropical destination in itself, Cairns has the ability to work with the cruising industry to develop an extended holiday experience for cruise passengers.
“I’m particularly pleased that Pacific Eden has been selected as the liner to grace our shores, given she already has ties with our city as her name was chosen by a Cairns resident.
“I look forward to an ongoing relationship with P&O Cruises as we work together to make this cruise program a success for all involved,” Cr Manning said.
With P&O Cruises sourcing almost all of its fresh produce in Australia, the cruise line’s expansion is likely to be a further boost for Queensland suppliers who already contribute large quantities of fruit and vegetables. In a typical year, P&O Cruises buys 1.1 million kilograms of fruit, 341,000 kilograms of vegetables and 1.2 million eggs from Queensland suppliers.
Ms Sherry said the cruise line is pleased that Cairns and northern Queensland will 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 become 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 a year in 2015, five years earlier than forecast,” Ms Sherry said.