P&O Cruises made history in Sydney yesterday – and simultaneously pulled off a brilliant publicity coup – by staging an unprecedented five-ship spectacular on the harbour to celebrate the arrival of its two latest cruise ships.
In a world first, the cruise line marked the debut of Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden with a social media naming ceremony, which saw popular Australian singer Jessica Mauboy and actress Kate Ritchie simultaneously christen the ships via Twitter as the two vessels sailed either side of Fort Denison.
The event worked perfectly, with a flawless Sydney blue-sky day providing the perfect backdrop for television footage and social media coverage around the world. Media and agents toured sister ships Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden in the afternoon and hailed last night’s spectacular as wonderful.
Aboard Pacific Aria, P&O Cruises senior vice-president Sture Myrmell said Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden embodied two concepts that P&O held dear: “affordable luxury” and “modern Australia”. He said P&O’s decision to boost capacity by 50% had been well received by the travel agent community. So had the ships. Agents who went out on the harbour loved the ships, Myrmell said.
In gaining inspiration for furnishing the new ships, Myrmell said P&O had spent a lot of time walking the streets in Sydney and Melbourne, and had added influences from London, New York and Amsterdam.
“We focussed a lot on dining.” There are some great speciality restaurants aboard.
In the naming ceremony, reflecting Australians’ love of social media and cruising, the ships’ godmothers both tweeted a short message declaring the ships named, while Jessica Mauboy also sang the national anthem.
In a nod to maritime tradition, a bottle of Champagne was smashed on the bow of each ship as they reached Fort Denison, with all five ships sounding their whistles to mark the nation’s first dual cruise ship christening.
The history-making gathering of five cruise ships from one fleet on the Harbour was watched by thousands of Sydneysiders on the foreshore and on small boats, while more than 12,000 guests and crew onboard the P&O fleet joined in the celebrations.
The five ships remained on Sydney Harbour all day. Guests aboard Pacific Aria, docked at the Overseas Passenger Terminal in Circular Quay, cluld see the other ships around the harbour. The Sydney Harbour Bridge, the ships, the Opera House; all made for a perfect setting.
Guests aboard were treated to a series of live concerts from more than 25 music acts during the afternoon. In the evening, a star-studded ‘Bianco White Party’ included performances by Jessica Mauboy, The Veronicas, Justice Crew, Samantha Jade and Stan Walker.
The celebration concluded with a special fireworks display above the harbour.
The five ships hosted more than 9000 passengers, and the rest of Sydney watched the spectacle from vantage points around the city.
Yesterday’s unprecedented event brought together a record number of cruise ships from one fleet on Sydney Harbour.
Ann Sherry, chief executive of Carnival Australia (which operates P&O Cruises) said the event marked a new era for P&O, Australia’s only homegrown cruise line, which has increased its fleet to five ships in response to increasing demand for cruise holidays.
“P&O Cruises has been sailing from Australia for more than 80 years so we are thrilled to be able to celebrate the expansion of our fleet with so many Sydneysiders today,” Sherry said.
“The addition of Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden represents a 50% expansion in our guest capacity and heralds a new look and feel for our cruise line, inspired by modern Australia.”
The history-making gathering of five cruise ships from one fleet on the harbour was watched by thousands of Sydneysiders on the foreshore and on small boats.
Written by Peter Needham