Strike up the band. Pop the champagne corks. MSC Orchestra is cruising into Australia waters for the first time next month, and the Italian line is determined to party.
Carrying 3,000 passengers, including 1,000 Australians,  Orchestra is on a grand voyage from Dubai via India and Southeast Asia before arriving in Cairns on March 13.
She then does a circumnavigation of Australia, calling at Brisbane on March 15.
But it’s when she cruises into Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay on St Patrick’s Day, March 17, that MSC has declared a celebration.
MSC Cruises Australia boss Lynne Clarke will spare no expense and effort to broadcast to Sydneysiders, travel agents and the whole cruise industry why Orchestra is so special.
“We want to showcase our product and tell everyone why MSC is so successful in Europe, especially in the Mediterranean,’’ she says.
So there will be poolside cocktail parties for VIP guests, endless ship visits for travel agents and more.
“If you want to give a party, then give it, otherwise don’t,’’ she says.
It will be very much like the gala cocktails hosted by Italian Captain Giuseppe Maresca on board Orchestra in the Arabian Gulf this week when free-flowing champagne and canapes were served to everyone at the ship’s five bars across two decks. Guests decked up in their best finery also got the chance to be photographed with the impeccably dressed captain. The party atmosphere was infectious.
While Ms Clarke will not be hosting one big party, she has meticulously planned a series of poolside cocktails with canapes and live music.
Naturally, Sydney will be the focal point of the celebrations. After a poolside party for invited guests on Deck 13, there’ll be a big fireworks display to send Orchestra on her journey to Melbourne.
Without a doubt, it will be a grand send-off.
All up, at least 4,000 travel agents will visit Orchestra when she calls at six Australian  ports – Cairns, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and finally ending her 33-day voyage at Fremantle on March 26.
“The amazing thing is the grand voyage from Dubai to Fremantle sold out in two weeks,’’ Ms Clarke says.
And it took three years of meticulous planning and late nights to get the project underway. But it was worth it.
Orchestra will then turn around and return to Europe on an Ausglobal charter for the Gallipoli 100 journey.
Mission accomplished.