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Giant cruise ship on course for New Zealand

Giant cruise ship on course for New Zealand

The biggest cruise ship ever to sail to New Zealand - P&O Cruises' new NZ$1.1 billion mega-liner, Star Princess - makes its inaugural visit at the end of the year.

Bigger than the world's biggest aircraft carrier - the 98,000-ton USS Nimitz - and only 13 months old, the 109,000-ton Star Princess visits New Zealand between November 2003 and February 2004.

Tauranga is her first Australasian port of call this coming season. She docks in the Bay of Plenty's busy port on November 22 before arriving in Auckland the next day and then heading for Sydney.

Star Princess will berth in New Zealand ports 29 times during her three-month South Pacific season.

She visits Milford Sound (six times), Dunedin (six), Christchurch (six), Wellington (four), Auckland (four) and Tauranga (once). She also calls in to Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart on two 12-night cruises and with the addition of Adelaide on two 14-night cruises.

P&O Cruises Australia and New Zealand director of sales Ross Regan says Kiwis will have a choice of a variety of Star Princess cruises in Australasian waters, details of which will be announced shortly.

Cabins are now on sale and fares are available from NZ$2,199 per person for a 12-night cruise including all onboard meals and entertainment.

At 290-metres, the 18-storey high ship is almost three rugby fields long and will be the biggest vessel of any kind to visit this country. She is more than twice as big as the legendary Titanic and carries 2,600 passengers and 1,100 crew.

Mr Regan says the US-based Star Princess is nearly 50 per cent bigger than the previous biggest cruise ship to visit New Zealand - the company's 76,000-ton Aurora - which first sailed here in 2001.

"Star Princess is a magnificent cruise ship and will prove to be a spectacular sight as she sails around New Zealand later this year," Mr Regan says. "It's a great way to see your country - from the deck of one of the world's most luxurious ocean liners.

"Her visits to New Zealand highlight both the growing popularity of 'Down Under' as a cruise destination for Americans and the increasing demand amongst Kiwis and Australians for superior cruise ships."

Launched in March 2002 and currently cruising in Alaska and the Mexican Riviera, P&O Cruises' Star Princess has:
· five pools and nine spas;
· nine restaurants and cafes serving 45,000 dishes a day plus a personal choice dining programme;
· 12 bars and lounges plus an internet café and a casino;
· a wedding chapel and art gallery;
· nine-hole putting course; · virtual reality centre and golf simulator;
· gym and jogging track;
· 1,300 cabins including 710 with private balconies;
· wrap-around promenade that enables passengers to visit the tip of the bow; and,
· a spoiler-like, glass-walled nightclub suspended 15 storeys above the sea at the rear of the ship and accessed by a moving 'skywalk'.

The top of the ship is only 6m lower than the top of Auckland's harbour bridge. Turn her on her end and at 290 metres she would be double the height of Auckland's ANZ Tower, New Zealand's second tallest skyscraper.

Star Princess is one of three identical sisters in P&O Cruises' growing international fleet of cruise ships, which currently numbers 20 with another five on order. One ship, P&O Cruises' 46,000-ton Pacific Sky, is based in Australasia year-round.

In addition to Star Princess' Australasian season in 2003/04, P&O Cruises is also bringing UK superliner Aurora (76,000 tons) to New Zealand.

According to Swedish-based ShipPax Information, more than 12 million people around the globe, including 12,000 New Zealanders, now take a cruise somewhere in the world each year - a 44 per cent increase since 1997. The international cruise industry is now a NZ$44 billion industry and growing up to three times faster than the general travel industry.

Consumer inquiries are available through P&O Cruises on 0800 44 17 66.

About P&O

P&O Princess Cruises was founded 166 years ago as the Pacific and Orient Steam Navigation Company and invented what today we call cruising. The company carries more than one million passengers annually across the world's oceans calling at 285 ports in more than 100 countries. It is the world's third biggest cruise line with an international fleet of 20 ships and a further five beginning service up to 2004.

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