Even by Sydney standards, five cruise ships in the harbour at once is pretty epic, but P&O Australia is bringing the entire fleet to town today to welcome its two newest additions.
Together, they have room for nearly 9000 passengers, adding an additional 30% capacity to the P&O fleet in an industry growing at a phenomenal rate in Australia.
This morning at dawn, 2000-guest 70,285-tonne Pacific Dawn, the 1950-guest 70,310-tonne Pacific Jewel and the 1800-guest 63,786-tonne Pacific Pearl with be joined by the the two newest and smallest members of the fleet, the 55,820-tonne Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden, each carrying 1500 guests. The five ships will create a V formation off Sydney Heads before sailing individually into the harbour between 6.15am and 8am.
Authorities are expecting spectators to turn out in force to witness the event, and are warning city workers to expect delays, especially with George St closed.
CBD coordinator general Marg Prendergast said Mrs Macquarie’s Chair near Circular Quay will be the best vantage point, but parking is extremely limited.
“For CBD commuters, please understand there may be slight delays to bus services particularly those coming from the north shore via Cahill Expressway Southbound, or the eastern suburbs past The Royal Botanic Gardens,” she said.
P&O has celebrities Jessica Mauboy and Kate Ritchie on Fort Denison to “christen” the two new liners via Twitter as they sail past, with champagne bottles breaking on the bows and daytime fireworks to mark the moment.
The Pacific Aria will dock at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, Circular Quay and Pacific Eden docks at White Bay cruise terminal, before anchoring off Neutral Bay.
The Pacific Jewel will anchor at Athol Bay; Pacific Dawn east of Garden Island and Pacific Pearl off Point Piper and P&O has a concerts planned from 4pm on all five ships, including Mauboy, Justice Crew, The Veronicas and X Factor winner Samantha Jade before fireworks at 8.45pm as the ships prepare to sail.
Cruising is now worth $3.2 billion annually in Australia. The industry hit 1 million passengers for the first time last season, six years ahead of expectations.
The industry’s annual growth in Australia continued at a staggering 20% for the past 12 years. The industry now believes it can hit 2 million by 2020.
Australia also has the world’s highest market penetration, with 4.2% of Australians taking a cruise last year
New South Wales is the biggest market, with 410,331 passengers making up 41% of the 2014 total.
The industry’s success means Royal Caribbean’s $1.3 billion, 170,000 tonne megaliner, Ovation of the Seas, will head to Sydney in summer 2016, following its build in Germany.
The world’s equal third largest cruise liner will carry 5000 passengers and 1500 crew. It will be 348 metres long and more than 50m tall.
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