The new build ship will be based year round in Australia.
The new build ship will be based year round in Australia. Contributed

New P&O; ship is just for us Aussies

AS IF we needed more proof that Australians love a cruise, along comes P&O making history by becoming the first cruise line to build a new ship specifically for the Australian market.

This is big news indeed.

It means the 135,500-tonne ship will be the biggest cruise ship ever to be based full-time in Australia and will carry more than 4200 guests.

Cruise aficionados will no doubt be swooning at this announcement, already planning their cruise holidays for the years ahead.

To be launched in 2019, the new ship will have double the capacity of the biggest cruise vessel currently home porting year round in this market.

At 323 metres and with 2100 guest rooms, the new ship will be a game-changer for Australian cruising.

Built specifically for modern Australia, it will offer itineraries from three to 10 days.

Sunshine Coast travel experts Gregor and Lewis usually deal with high-end luxury cruise lines, but this news has excited them for their many return clients who love to get away for a quick cruise from their home state.

"Some clients who just want to get away for a week will drive to Brisbane, hop on board for a quick break. Queensland has one of the biggest cruise markets in Australia, possibly because so many people come to Queensland to retire and retirees love to cruise," Melinda Gregor of Gregor and Lewis said.

"Brisbane is also closer to the South Pacific Islands than Sydney, it means they save a day at sea."

The addition of the new P&O Cruises' ship forms part of a global announcement made by P&O's parent company, Carnival Corporation.

Heralding in the new year, Carnival Corporation has signed a memo of agreement with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri to build four new cruise ships for its global fleet.

As the world's largest travel and leisure company, Carnival Corporation has an existing fleet of 99 cruise ships and a total of 17 new ships scheduled for delivery between 2016 and 2020.

The new build P&O Cruises' ship will be based year round in Australia, capturing forecast further growth in the local cruise market and reaffirming P&O's 84-year national maritime heritage.

Carnival Australia executive chairman Ann Sherry and P&O Cruises Australia president Sture Myrmell hailed the first "new build" cruise ship for the Australian market as the best possible good news for one of the world's top performing cruise markets.

"The much-anticipated first new build cruise ship is a huge vote of confidence in the Australian cruise market with much of the 20% year-on-year passenger growth over the past decade driven by P&O Cruises' dynamic industry leadership," she said.

Mr Myrmell said the new ship added to P&O Cruises' pattern of growth, with the recent addition of Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden to its three-ship fleet to be followed in 2017 with the addition of Pacific Explorer.

"P&O Cruises is the modern face of Australian cruising and, with such a proud heritage of leadership, it is a natural step to announce the line will take delivery of its first new build ship," Mr Myrmell said.

He said details and features of the new ship will be revealed later but it will build on the continued evolution of the P&O Cruises' brand and will reflect the tastes of modern Australia.

The new ship is just one of many P&O firsts in its development as Australia's most trusted cruise line as confirmed over three consecutive years in the Reader's Digest annual trusted brands.