P&O Cruises Australia’s Pacific Explorer has today made history after becoming the first cruise ship to return to New Caledonia post-COVID.

In what marked the long-anticipated reopening of New Caledonia’s maritime borders to cruise tourism, Pacific Explorer sailed into Noumea this morning for an overnight stay, which featured local celebrations to mark the return of cruising, followed by a call to Lifou in the Loyalty Islands.

It’s just the latest in a slew of milestones for P&O’s flagship, which was the first cruise ship to return to Australia in April this year, as well as the first ship to visit New Zealand and Fiji in August.

President of Carnival Australia and P&O Cruises Australia Marguerite Fitzgerald said the cruise company was excited to see New Caledonia opening its doors once again to cruise tourism.

“P&O Cruises has been sailing to New Caledonia for many decades, and so we are thrilled to return to this beautiful nation,” Fitzgerald said.

“Cruise tourism makes an important economic contribution to the island nations of the South Pacific, and we are looking forward to renewing our partnerships with the governments, businesses and communities of New Caledonia and strengthening them even further as our ships call once again.”

Fitzgerald added that Pacific Explorer’s overnight stay was a hugely exciting development.

“New Caledonia has always been one of our guests’ favourite destinations, so we’re keen to give them even more opportunity to explore its offerings, including Noumea’s exciting new Quai Ferry development beside the cruise terminal.”

She added that Carnival Australia’s cruise lines were also looking at scheduling longer days in Noumea, as this has since become possible thanks to the opening of the new Brisbane International Cruise Terminal.

“Thanks to the location and the design of the new Brisbane terminal, we can now reach Noumea faster than we used to, so we can spend more time visiting the city,” she said.

“That’s a real win-win development for New Caledonia and for our guests.”

Ships from across Carnival Australia’s family of brands are set to make more than 20 visits to New Caledonia over the rest of this year, while 2023 will see more than 150 calls scheduled.

For more info, visit pocruises.com.au