P&O Cruises’ record New Zealand season has come to a close, with Pacific Pearl setting sail for Sydney today following an unprecedented five-month Auckland deployment.
To mark her transition back to Australia, Pacific Pearl’s four-day cruise across the Tasman will feature a range of friendly Aussie versus Kiwi battles as well as a “Crossing The Line” ceremony as the ship passes from New Zealand to Australian waters.
Onboard antipodean challenges will include a jandal-throwing competition (that’s thong-throwing to Australians), touch footy, deck tug-of-war and a Marmite versus Vegemite bake-off, while guests of all nationalities will be encouraged to join in plans to take the largest selfie at sea.
During P&O’s biggest ever New Zealand season, Pacific Pearl has carried more than 34,000 guests on 20 cruises, contributing close to $20 million to the economy in guest and crew expenditure, supplies and port charges.
Regional visits have also injected hundreds of thousands of dollars to local economies, with Pacific Pearl’s season including a special 10-night circumnavigation of New Zealand, featuring the cruise line’s maiden call to Stewart Island, as well as a themed cruise to Napier’s world-famous Art Deco festival.
Pacific Pearl also chalked up a maiden call to the Cook Islands and completed a colossal Running Man challenge at sea, involving every crew member (including the captain).
Returning to Auckland for its final two-month season in February next year, Pacific Pearl will be replaced by the larger Pacific Jewel for a second New Zealand season from September until October 2017.
The move to include an extra season next year reasserts P&O’s commitment to the local market, and is a direct response to the growing demand for cruising by New Zealanders.
P&O Cruises President Sture Myrmell said P&O was thrilled with Pacific Pearl’s success this season.
“There’s no question that our increased presence in New Zealand this year has helped build Kiwis’ appetite for cruising so we look forward to another big year in local waters in 2017,” Mr Myrmell.