Image: Mega Gem Soon To Shine In New Zealand
21 June, 2004
With the US christening of the megaliner Sapphire Princess on June 11, the countdown has begun to the Christmas arrival of the biggest and newest cruise ship ever to sail to New Zealand.
One of the first 'passengers' aboard the sparkling new ship was the world's largest carved sapphire, the 13kg, football-sized 'Millennium Sapphire'. Worth hundreds of millions of dollars and adorned with images celebrating human achievements, the rare 61,500 carat treasure was on display aboard Sapphire Princess as she was christened in the 'Emerald City' of Seattle.
The first lady of Alaska, Nancy Murkowski - wife of Alaskan Governor Frank Murkowski - became Sapphire Princess' godmother when she formally launched the huge ship ahead of her debut Alaska season.
The 116,000-ton Sapphire Princess will rewrite the history books when she arrives in Auckland on December 17 this year as the biggest and newest liner ever to sail to New Zealand.
Seven thousand tons bigger than Star Princess, which drew huge crowds around New Zealand when she spent last summer here, the 2,700-passenger Sapphire Princess cruises between New Zealand and Australia until March 2005 when she returns to her home port of Seattle via Asia.
During her season here, Sapphire Princess docks in Auckland seven times and makes six visits to both Dunedin (first call on New Year's Eve) and Christchurch (first this New Year's day). She also visits Wellington seven times (her first visit is on January 2), Tauranga (first on December 18), the Bay of Islands (on January 5) and cruises Fjordland National Park five times (beginning January 11).
Sapphire Princess is operated by US-based Princess Cruises - a sister line to P&O Cruises.
"Cruising is booming around the world," says P&O Cruises New Zealand business development manager Shannon Currie.
"It's the fastest growing sector of the travel industry and the increasing size of ships visiting New Zealand shows that our own cruise industry just keeps getting bigger.
"If Kiwis thought Star Princess was an amazing sight, wait till they see Sapphire Princess this summer. She is bigger, wider, taller, newer and more spacious and technologically advanced than Star Princess and is certain to attract even more attention."
Sapphire Princess has five pools, nine restaurants and cafes, eight jacuzzis, a mini golf course, wedding chapel, luxury spa sanctuary, two nightclubs, 13 bars and lounges including a unique wake-view bar at the rear of the ship and the biggest internet café at sea. She also features a new environmentally friendly gas turbine in her funnel and 750 cabins with their own private balcony.
Cruises on Sapphire Princess are already heavily booked but cabins on selected cruises are still available including a 12-night voyage from Auckland to Sydney on January 30, 2005, which is available from NZ$2846* per person including main meals and entertainment.
*Subject to availability/conditions apply.
Details on the new, low fares are available through travel agents or P&O Cruises on 0800 44 17 66 or visit www.pocruises.co.nz
Issued for P&O Cruises by Pead PR