And the extra ships mean that by 2016, a million people a year will be taking cruises in Australia, thanks to “eye-popping” growth in cruise popularity among holiday-makers.
“Australians know a good thing when they discover it, and that speaks to why taking a cruise has become the most popular vacation experience in the Australian tourism industry,” Arnold Donald, the CEO of Carnival Corporation, P&O’s parent company, said.
“By any measure, Australia is one of the top performing cruise markets in the world, with an eye-popping average annual passenger growth rate of 20 per cent over the past decade.”
The new ships, to be transferred from fellow Carnival Corporation cruise line Holland America, will bring P&O’s Australian fleet to five.
The ships, ms Ryndam and ms Statendam, are currently based in Europe and the US and will be rebranded and refurbished to sail under the P&O brand.
The ships’ new names, home ports and itineraries are yet to be revealed, but the two ships will join P&O in November 2015.
Both ships are of a similar mid-range size to the three existing P&O Cruises ships, Pacific Dawn, Pacific Jewel and Pacific Pearl, which each cater to 1800-2000 passengers.
As part of the refit, the range of on-board features will be tailored for Australian and New Zealand cruise customers.
“This further fleet expansion is entirely appropriate for P&O Cruises, the shipping line that pioneered cruising from Australia more than 80 years ago and has set the pace for the industry ever since,” P&O Cruises senior vice president Tammy Marshall said.
Last year, more than 800,000 Australians took a cruise, with the lion’s share travelling with P&O Cruises.
In the five years from 2007 to 2012, Australian cruise passenger numbers increased 130 per cent.
Already this month, Carnival’s rival company Royal Caribbean has announced it would bring new ships to Australia next year, including superliner Legend of the Seas and boutique ship Azamara Quest.
Tourism Accommodation Australia managing director Rodger Powell said the extra ships was great news for the industry.
“When cruise ships are in town hotels are full,” he said.
“Guests stay before departure and after arrival so this is terrific news for our members.
“This will benefit the wider Australian tourism industry as well, because cruise passengers have an important multiplier effect on the domestic economy, spending money on restaurants, shopping and sightseeing.”
Meanwhile, Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive Ken Morrison said governments needed to bolster investment to ensure Australia can keep up with the cruising boom.
The peak body is pushing for permanent arrangements to allow cruise ships to share Garden Island with the Royal Australian Navy during the peak of the summer cruise season.
“With additional ships based in Australia and with a growing number of ships simply too big to fit under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, steps must be taken to secure additional port facilities east of the bridge,” Mr Morrison said.
“New facilities are also required in Brisbane to ensure that southeast Queensland capitalises on the economic contribution of the sector.”
By Herald Sun
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