It’s the final countdown until P&O’s newest and biggest member of the fleet, Pacific Explorer sails on her inaugural cruise.

Currently in dry dock, the former Dawn Princess will undergo a massive refit over 12 days where she will be transformed into a brand spanking new ship.

The epitome of modern Australia, the ship features cool new bars with kitsch and modern decor (you’ll feel like you’re in one of the top drinking holes in Sydney or Melbourne), amazing new shows as well as fabulous food.

P&O president Sture Myrmell, the driving force behind P&O’s modernisation, sat down with Cruise Passenger to talk about Australia’s newest homeported ship.

“While lots of international lines are catering to the American or the global market, the beauty of P&O is that our ships reflect what’s happening on land in Australia. So if you look at the decor, the restaurants, the chefs as well as the entertainment and activities. It’s an all Australian ship,” he said.

“It’s one of the things that differentiates P&O from other brands – we can allow ourselves to be focused on Australia which has been our objective for many years.”

Pacific Explorer is based on her sisters, Pacific Eden and Aria, but has even more choice. She’ll have amazing activities onboard including a waterpark and a brand new lawn bowls area.  

“On the aft deck we are putting in a barefoot bowls lawn where there will also be a little bar carts. It will be a lovely moment at sea – you’ll spend the afternoon having a beer, play some bowls while some people are in the deck chairs. It will be magical,” said Mr Myrmell.

He also revealed to Cruise Passenger that the line has partnered with the Australian creative genius Scott Maidment whose cabaret circus style production Blanc de Blanc has featured at the Sydney Opera House as well as in Melbourne.

“We are doing something we haven’t done before. We are launching a new show called the Love Riot in the Black Circus bar. While with most of shows, we create a concept and then develop the talent. But Scott will pick talent and then create the story around these gifted actors and performers – whether they be sword swallowers or contortionists or burlesque dancers. It’s a little quirky and a little eccentric and will be absolutely stunning.”

On the food front, P&O has partnered with Johnny Di Francesco who won the 2014 World’s Best Pizza award.

“The past two years have seen the evolution of our cruise product with all our ships now offer great food and wine options and a contemporary look and feel. We’re very excited to be taking the next step on Pacific Explorer with our new burger and pizza offerings, which reflects the trends towards casual gourmet dining on land.

“Luke [Mangan] is back but in a different capacity. He recently developed Chicken Confidential, which is a casual fast food experience so that’s something that thought we would bring on board. But we’ll also have Luke’s fine dining experiences available. Inside The Waterfront, we have an enclosed area where he is doing a seven-course degustation menu. She’ll be a great ship for the entire family.”