P&O's Pacific Explorer arrives in Sydney Harbour

Apr 18, 2022

P&O's Pacific Explorer became the first cruise ship to return to Australia in more than two years. Sailing through Sydney Heads at about 9.30am before gliding into Circular Quay mid-morning with an escort of official vessels and Sydney ‘boaties’.

She received a marvellous welcome home to Sydney this morning with a ceremonial ‘water cannon salute’ celebrating her entry and in this way announces retune of $5 billion a year to the Australian cruise industry.

There were 250 crew on board, without passengers. Another 600 crew are expected to join the ship before its first cruise on May 31, a four-night round trip from Sydney to Brisbane.

President of Carnival Australia and P&O Cruises Marguerite Fitzgerald described the sight of the Pacific Explorer sailing into the harbour as "an emotional moment for our employees, many thousands of guests and our numerous cruise suppliers, travel agents and entertainers."

"There could be no better way to welcome Pacific Explorer home than to have the harbour's tugs out in force to greet her. It doesn't get more Sydney than that," said Fitzgerald.

"It was my singular mission to make sure that we were the first cruise line back," she said. "We are the Australian cruise line, we're also the only cruise line that has Australian operations and so that means that it's important for us to be the first back, because we are able to work through the various protocols locally to make sure the ships are ready to come back in six weeks when we take our first guests on board."

NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said the cruise industry is a significant contributor to the NSW economy, an important part of the nation's tourism industry and a major employer.

"Not only is this announcement important to industry and their passengers, cruising supports our tourism operators, hospitality industry and all those local suppliers who help with the enormous task of re-supplying ships," he said.

International cruise ships were banned from Australian waters in March 2020 after the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.

Last month, the government announced to reopen the international borders for tourists and allow international cruises to enter its territory from April 18.

Cruise ships are a major part of the country's tourism industry. In 2019, Australia received over 600,000 cruise ship passengers through 350 vessels. Meanwhile, fully vaccinated travellers to Australia will no longer need to provide a pre-departure negative PCR test before boarding their flight, Sky News reported citing the country's health department