Pacific Eden’s maiden call to Honiara in the Solomon Islands earlier this month marked the culmination of a big year of maiden calls by P&O Cruises.
Honiara was the final of a massive 17 maiden calls for the line in 2016, beginning with Wewak in Papua New Guinea in February.
According to P&O Cruises Senior Vice President – Guest Experience Peter Little, a lot goes into planning for a maiden visit, a process that can begin years before a call is actually made.
“It involves travel to the destinations ahead of the ships to inspect suitability of the area to berth a ship or receive ships’ tenders plus meetings with various authorities to determine local regulations and customs and quarantine arrangements,” Mr Little said.
“We also need to ensure that any port facility upgrades that might be required are delivered in time; this can include wharf maintenance or installing necessary aids to navigation.
“Another requirement is detailing the specifics of each port including expected weather conditions, tides, currents and any navigation hazards. We meet with harbour masters and pilots to learn any local knowledge which might not already be officially documented,” he said.
“There is also drafting of the shore tour schedule as well as any need to improve facilities to cope with the influx of visitors from a large passenger ship. We also have discussions with various hydrographic agencies to ensure that appropriate charting is available and carry out security and safety inspections of the area.”
P&O’s inaugural visit to Honiara was marked with an official lunch on board, which was attended by guests including the Solomon Islands Deputy Prime Minister, the Permanent Secretary for Tourism and Culture and the Australian High Commissioner, Deputy Australian High Commissioner along with other DFAT team members.