Eden residents Colin and Jenny Hunter had an excellent reason for cruising to their hometown on board Pacific Explorer as the P&O Cruises’ flagship became the first cruise ship to use the port’s $44 million wharf extension.
A surveyor by profession, Colin had worked on the ambitious project and with Jenny wanted to be on the first ship to use the facility, a project jointly funded by the NSW Government, Federal Government and Bega Valley Shire Council.
“Having worked with the team that built the wharf extension we thought it would be great to sail into Eden on the first ship to actually dock there,” Colin said after boarding Pacific Explorer at the Overseas Passenger Terminal in Sydney.
“I was one of the surveyors on the project and the main thing was to help ensure the piles were driven into the correct positions along with the placement of the new bollards and dolphins.”
Jenny was just as excited as Colin about going to Sydney to cruise back home to Eden and was happy to describe the many local attractions her fellow cruise guests could expect to see in Eden and on the Sapphire Coast.
“We love cruising and have been on quite a few cruises over the years but we are really excited about this cruise,” Jenny said.
“Some of the other guys who also worked on the wharf extension will be there when we sail in and we are looking forward to seeing them.”
The Eden community’s warm embrace of cruise tourism was celebrated today as Pacific Explorer made local maritime history with the inaugural alongside call.
Peter Little, Senior Vice President Guest Experience P&O Cruises and Pacific Explorer’s master, Captain Roger Bilton, joined government and community leaders at a ceremony marking the arrival of the ship with her 2000 guests.
Mr Little paid a warm tribute to the Eden community for their enthusiasm for cruise tourism and acknowledged the significant infrastructure investment by the NSW Government, the Federal Government and the Bega Valley Shire Council.
“Over a number of years, Eden has written the textbook for communities on how to embrace the opportunity of cruise tourism and the economic activity that it generates,” Mr Little said.
Oyster farmer Brett Weingart – with his Captain Sponge Magical Oyster Tour- is among the local businesses inspired to make the most of the cruise tourism opportunity.
Mr Weingarth said, “I’d had an idea for the oyster farm tour for quite some time and when the cruise ships were first mooted I knew that there would be people coming to Eden looking for something to do.
“Nowadays there is a real hunger with people wanting to know where their food comes from and meeting the people who produce it. And that combined with the best oysters on the planet has made our oyster farm tour very successful. It’s a magical combination.”
Captain Bilton said he was honoured to bring the first cruise ship alongside in Eden as part of the P&O flagship’s three-night cruise from Sydney.
“Being able to bring a ship alongside in Eden is a great step forward because it means we can offer our guests greater certainty of a successful call,” Captain Bilton said.
“Eden is an attractive destination for our guests and it has the distinction of being a deep natural harbour between Sydney and Melbourne. It is a privilege to be here and thank you to everyone who has contributed to Pacific Explorer’s visit.”
Pacific Explorer is among 22 cruise ships that will visit Eden between now and the end of April taking in Australia’s main cruise season. Eden arrivals include P&O sister brand, Holland America Line’s Maasdam on September 27.