New South Wales Police have ordered P&O’s Pacific Explorer to leave White Bay Cruise Terminal, her homeport, in an extraordinary move.

The order elicited an immediate and strong response from Sture Myrmell, the President of Carnival Australia which operates P&O Cruises.

But the line agreed it would obey the order and Pacific Explorer was preparing to sail at time of writing.

“It was unprecedented for the cruise line to be treated in this way given its Australian origins,” said Mr Myrmell. “This is a particular sad and disappointing day and a terrible blow to the vital part of the tourism industry.”

This latest edict comes as six cruise ships off the coast of NSW have been ordered to leave Australian waters amid the coronavirus pandemic, with NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller accusing them of lingering and delaying departure.

Mr Myrmell said P&O has been cruising from Australia for 88 years. The line supports thousands of jobs and the economic life of the State and regional communities.

“P&O ships have been the backbone of cruising in Australia taking half a million Aussies on cruise holidays each year. There is no illness on Pacific Explorer, no passenger or crew member has been tested positive for COVID-19.

“Yet today, the NSW Police has instructed Pacific Explorer to leave Sydney Harbour, the ship’s homeport.

“It is unprecedented for Australia’s home grown cruise line to be ordered to leave Australia. P&O is the only cruise line in the world to have its head office in Australia.”

He said it is “bitterly disappointing that short-term measures have put an industry, jobs and people at risk.

“There is still time to change this approach. Compassion and clear thinking beyond the crisis, has never been needed more,” he added.

The Explorer has recently returned from a refit costing millions and was ready to start new sailings. Her expulsion and departure from her home port will be a bitter blow.