The new P&O Australia fleet additions, the 55,819gt/1993 built Pacific Eden (ex-Statendam) and the 55,819gt/1994 built Pacific Aria (ex-Ryndam) have commenced their transformations from Holland America Line ships to those of P&O Cruises Australia. Work on the former Statendam commenced on 23rd October, closely followed by her sister on 31st October. Both ships went to the Sembcorp Marine Admiralty Yard in Singapore for the shipyard’s first double refurbishment. Both ships concluded HAL itineraries in Singapore prior to arriving at the yard.

The refits lasted 3 weeks each including 11 days actually in dry dock. During the work the overhauls involved an estimated 20,000m2 of carpet, 2,500m2 of wall covering, more than 300 pieces of art, 2,500 pieces of furniture and 2,500 signs, as well as 500 litres of paint. There were also purchases ranging from 47,000 glasses to 74,000 pieces of china and 30,000 items of cutlery. The Pacific Eden emerged from dry dock on 3rd November and then cruised via Fremantle and southern Australia en route to Sydney Harbour for her dual naming ceremony with sister ship Pacific Aria on 25th November. The Pacific Aria departed dry dock on 12th November, sailing direct to Sydney.

In an industry first, P&O Cruises Australia will officially name the two ships via social media site Twitter. Australian singer Jessica Mauboy, who first shot to fame in 2006 on Australian Idol, and actress Kate Ritchie, who has spent 20 years as a lead on Home and Away, will be godmothers to the two ships. They will tweet the words of the traditional maritime blessing in a spectacular dual christening ceremony, as the two ships sail either side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge on November 25th. The message will also be simultaneously posted onto both godmother’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, as well as shared on P&O Cruises Australia’s social media platforms.

The rejection of tradition in such a ceremony does appear hugely misguided, unless this is in addition to the standard ceremony of course. The day of the “ceremony” will also see all five P&O Australia ships unite in Sydney Harbour for the very first time, dubbed the Five Ship Spectacular. On 26th October the company confirmed that its newest ship will be named Pacific Explorer when the present Dawn Princess (77,441gt/built 1997) joins the P&O Australia fleet in May 2017.

Meanwhile, Carnival’s 85,920gt/2001 built Carnival Spirit suffered a technical fault in mid-October on her propulsion system resulting in a reduced cruising speed. Technicians tended to the problem upon arrival in Sydney.

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