Pacific Explorer, the flagship for P&O Australia, is on her way home after two years. She begins her first guest cruise from Australia on May 31 — a Sydney to Brisbane round trip — and is due to arrive in Sydney in mid-April soon after the federal cruise ban is lifted on April 17.

The vessel has been standing off the coast of Cyprus, with P&O sister ships Pacific Encounter and Pacific Adventure.  Pacific Explorer will be berthed in Sydney during ramping up procedures to prepare for the restart of cruising.

The news comes as Flight Centre reports a huge increase in inquiries about local cruising. Total searches between 15 – 22 March 2022 — were up 308% on searches made in the 7 days prior

Searches that featured particular destinations in order of popularity:

  • Australasia 47%
  • Pacific 19%
  • Hawaii 6%
  • Asia & Indian Ocean 4%
  • Europe 3%

Meanwhile P&O is back buying local produce, to the delight of small businesses who have fought hard to get cruise reinstated.

“Our suppliers are at last seeing that the restart of cruising also means the restart of opportunity for them after two long years,” said Marguerite Fitzgerald, President of Carnival Australia and P&O Cruises Australia, who fronted a video from Cyprus of the Explorer’s crew preparing for their return.

“We are back in the marketplace for the first time in two years for the supply of a wide range of products. Pacific Explorer’s mid-April arrival means that we will soon be placing our first orders for local fresh produce including large quantities of fruit and vegetables.

“For its first cruise, Pacific Explorer will typically need more than 300 pallets of supplies with around a third carrying around 50 tonnes of fresh produce.  These numbers will increase further as Pacific Encounter and Pacific Adventure return to service to cruise from Australia.”

“There is a growing spirit of confidence and optimism that the return of cruising is also restoring opportunities for our suppliers,” Ms Fitzgerald said. “It is so good that we can contribute to the recovery of fantastic Australian businesses who survived two very tough years and are now on the way back to a bright future.