(11:25 a.m. AEST) – Cruising history was made this morning with the whole fleet of P&O Cruises sailing into Sydney — the first time that five ships of the same brand have ever come together in the famous harbour. Just before sunrise, Pacific Dawn, Jewel, Pearl and today’s additions to the cruise line, Aria and Eden, created a V formation before sailing abreast in one line toward the city.
The special occasion celebrated the arrival of Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden, two former Holland America vessels, which were relaunched in a world-first social media naming ceremony, attended by Carnival Corporation CEO and president Arnold Donald, and CEO of Carnival Australia, Ann Sherry.
The two godmothers — local singer Jessica Mauboy and actress Kate Ritchie — simultaneously named the ships with a short message via Twitter, pointing their phones at Aria and Eden as they sailed either side of Fort Denison, near the Opera House. Mauboy also sang the national anthem, while the traditional bottle of Champagne was smashed on the bow of each ship. All five ships then sounded their whistles to mark the nation’s first dual cruise ship christening, followed by fireworks.
Televised live on the Today show, the five-ship spectacular was also watched by more than 12,000 guests and crew onboard the P&O fleet as well as thousands of people on shore and on small boats on a perfect spring morning.
Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden, along with fleetmates Pacific Dawn, Pearl and Jewel will remain in the harbour all day, before the onboard parties of live concerts with more than 25 music acts during the afternoon and evening, including performances by Mauboy, The Veronicas, Justice Crew, Samantha Jade and Stan Walker. A special fireworks display above the harbour will conclude the celebrations at 8:45 p.m.
Sherry said the event marked a new era for Australia’s only homegrown cruise line.
“P&O Cruises has been sailing from Australia for more than 80 years so we are thrilled to be able to celebrate the expansion of our fleet with so many Sydneysiders today, she said.”
Arnold Donald told us he flew into Sydney to be “part of history” in the fastest growing cruise market in the world. “Eight million of our 10 brands’ 800 million cruise days are cruised by Australians, so that’s way over index,” he said. Donald returns home tomorrow in time for Thanksgiving.
Meanwhile, Cruise Critic will continue the party onboard Pacific Aria and the inaugural cruise to Brisbane.