P&O Australia’s Pacific Explorer called on Auckland and became the first ship to return to the region since the restart of operations following the pandemic, according to a press release.
The Pacific Explorer docked in Waitemata Harbor for the first time in more than two years this week, as part of a 12-night roundtrip cruise from Sydney to New Zealand and Fiji. After arriving at Queen’s Wharf, guests and staff were met with a traditional Māori welcome, according to P&O Cruises.
“Pacific Explorer’s arrival in Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland today is a signal that cruise tourism is poised to make a significant contribution to the restoration of the tourism economy. Looking further afield to the reopening of maritime borders in other parts of the Pacific, it is entirely appropriate that Pacific Explorer is on an itinerary that includes calls in Fiji. We are looking forward to our ships also being able to return to beautiful destinations in New Caledonia and Vanuatu and to the progressive return to New Zealand ports of ships from our other cruise lines as the tourism sector continues to rebuild,” said Marguerite Fitzgerald, president, Carnival Australia and P&O Cruises Australia.
Local business owners from a variety of industries, including hotels, tours, and transportation, were among those that welcomed the Pacific Explorer, hailing its arrival and the boost cruise travel provides to the local economy.
“We saw steady growth in the number of cruise ships calling in around the South Pacific and into New Zealand contributing to expanding ports, new destinations and increased activity in the hospitality and food service sectors. After 28 months, it will be delightful to welcome cruise passengers back enjoying local cuisine, finding unique gifts, or experiencing some of the breath-taking views, sights and rich heritage that New Zealand has to offer,” said Chetan Chhita, managing director, Chevalier Wholesale Produce.
Fitzgerald further noted that P&O is already planning the Pacific Explorer’s return to Auckland in 2023, for its first home ported cruise season in three years.
“This is an exciting day for P&O and an exciting day for cruising and we thank New Zealand for today’s warm welcome,” she commented.