The countdown is on for the first cruise to depart from Sydney Harbour.

It’s been over two years since we’ve seen a cruise ship in our waters and this morning, spirits were high and the mood convivial as stockpiles of Australian fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood and even cornflakes were loading onto P&O’s Pacific Explorer.

More than 220 pallets with 7.3 tonnes of meat, 9.6 tonnes of fruit and vegetables, 6.6 tonnes of seafood and 300,000 shelled eggs will be loaded on Pacific Explorer today.

P&O’s celebrity chef Luke Mangan declared, “We’re back baby!”

“What a great day. It’s been two years of hard slog for all of us. Especially for the producers who not only were affected by the pandemic, but before, by drought and fires.

“I’m looking forward to the first cruise back on May 31.”

“As a chef and restaurant owner and operator including a number of signature outlets on P&O Cruises Australia ships, I know that the quality of Australian produce is key to success. “So, it is fantastic to see that the return of cruising also means the return of opportunity for our farmers and other producers including winemakers and craft beer makers. Many have done it tough over the past two years and it is good to know that the benefits will only increase as cruising ramps up.”

Below decks in the galley, crew have been trialing dishes to make they were up to the highest standards.

President of Carnival Australia and P&O Cruises Australia, Marguerite Fitzgerald, said the resumption of cruise was a massive injection of money into the economy.

Pre-pandemic, the cruise industry was worth $5 billion dollars a year

As Carnival Australia brand ships gradually return to service in coming months, suppliers would each month be delivering produce valued at around $10 million.

“Today’s big delivery of produce to Pacific Explorer is where cruising and economic opportunity meet. It is also strong confirmation of the multiplier effect of cruise tourism and the diversity of the ‘cruising ecosystem,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

Pacific Explorer is scheduled to sail from Sydney on May 31 on its first commercial cruise since the cruise ban in Australia was lifted. Guests will sail on a four-night itinerary with a call to Brisbane on June 2 where Pacific Explorer will become the first cruise ship to berth at the Brisbane International Cruise Terminal.

See a tour of the ship here: