Image: Kiwis Give Pacific Sky Big Send-Off
Kiwis give Pacific Sky big send-off
Like ducks to water, Kiwi travellers have taken to a new way of joining the annual winter exodus to the South Pacific.
It's winter cruising and it has proven so popular in its first full season that almost 90 per cent of passengers on P&O's Pacific Sky have been New Zealanders.
As a result, P&O Cruises is next year increasing the number of voyages out of Auckland by 60 per cent.
Now Pacific Sky, New Zealand's most popular cruise ship, has departed the City of Sails until next winter.
She is cruising via New Caledonia to a new base in Brisbane where she is being welcomed by a sky writing display after completing her final 2004 cruise out of Auckland.
Queensland is a popular destination for Kiwi travellers so P&O Cruises is now marketing a number of fly, stay and cruise options from Brisbane.
Pacific Sky leaves behind an increasingly cruising-savvy New Zealand public.
It's the first time Pacific Sky has been based in Auckland for a winter season and all five cruises of 1,500 passengers-each have been fully booked.
P&O Cruises New Zealand business development manager Shannon Currie says Kiwis have dominated the passenger list on each of Pacific Sky's cruises.
"Of the 7,500 berths available on Pacific Sky this winter, 6,600 or nearly 90 per cent have been occupied by Kiwis heading for the tropics.
"We're absolutely delighted with the growth in the market. So much so that next winter we are increasing the number of Pacific Sky berths available to 12,000.
"And we expect this market growth to continue the following year so we are planning on adding even more departures out of Auckland in 2006."
Will Harvey, Ports of Auckland General Manager Port Services, is very supportive of dedicated Australasian cruise bases.
"The ex-Auckland winter escapes by P&O Cruises give New Zealanders another option for their winter break and ensure the Auckland cruise facilities are used year-round.
"The Pacific Sky winter cruises contributed to a record cruise season for 2003-04. The Auckland city and regional economies benefited to the tune of an estimated $43 million from the direct spend of the 58,000 passengers this season," said Mr Harvey.
Mr Currie attributes the growing popularity of cruising amongst New Zealanders to a number of factors.
"The world's a little less secure nowadays and travellers are staying closer to home. But there's also the cost factor - on a cruise there's one up-front cost so people feel more secure in their budgeting.
"Also, while we still like to head for warmer climes in winter a ship does provide a little bit more romance than the hustle and bustle of airports and ground transfers."
P&O Cruises is bolstering its Pacific fleet with the addition of the 1,900-passenger Pacific Sun which will be based in Sydney from next month.
Australasia is one of the world's fastest growing cruising markets and in 2005 P&O Cruises will carry a total of 150,000 passengers, up from 58,000 this year.
Issued for P&O Cruises by Pead PR