Pacific Aria during her maiden call at Fraser Island (Image: Mark Fitzpatrick Photography (@_markfitz)
P&O Cruises’ Pacific Aria became the largest ship to navigate the Great Sandy Strait when she called at Fraser Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site off Queensland, Australia, on 3 April.
The 55,820gt Pacific Aria anchored off Kingfisher Bay Resort about 7am, marking the first time that P&O Cruises has called at Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island. The maiden call was part of Pacific Aria’s four-night roundtrip from Brisbane.
While on the island, guests were able to enjoy Kingfisher Bay Resort’s facilities and participate in various activities such as bush tucker tasting, a visit to the Central Station rainforest and Lake McKenzie, mangrove walking tours and beach Segway rides.
“Pacific Aria’s historic visit has been a feat of modern navigation,” said Sture Myrmell, P&O’s president. “Our team worked closely with local authorities including Maritime Safety Queensland, the Gladstone Regional Harbour Master and the Australian Hydrographic Service to update shipping charts in the strait and carefully plan cruise calls around high tides.”
Pacific Aria’s sister ship Pacific Eden will call at Fraser Island on 12 December during her four-night roundtrip from Sydney, while a further five Fraser Island calls are scheduled for 2017. P&O will continue to work with former harbour master Captain Mike Lutze, the only experienced Fraser Island pilot, to train Australian Reef Pilots to ensure the viability of future cruise visits to the island.
Fraser Island is one of 15 regional destinations P&O has added to its itineraries in recent years as a result of its recent fleet expansion. This includes ten ports in the state of Queensland, such as Mooloolaba, Moreton Island and Gladstone.
“As P&O expands, we’re thrilled to be leading the way in introducing more of Australia to cruising, especially Fraser Island, which boasts some of the world's most magnificent scenery, wildlife and visitor experiences,” said Myrmell. “It’s a very exciting time for cruise tourism in Australia with passenger numbers continuing to surge and it’s great to be able to share the economic benefits of this growth with communities around the nation.”