Explore the Pacific aboard P&O’s Pacific Explorer

In a nation surrounded by ocean more and more Australians are looking to the sea for their next adventure with cruise bookings continuing to boom. Cruise ships are a familiar sight on the waters of Sydney harbour but the way for today’s cruise visitors was paved by P&O which began cruising in Australia back 1932.

P&O currently operates six ships from Australian ports but is about to refresh its fleet.  The 70,310 ton Pacific Jewel will retire in March with the 55,820 ton Pacific Eden to follow in April. They will be replaced by the 108,977 ton Star Princess and the 108,865 ton Golden Princess which will both be rebadged as P&O ships. The Golden Princess joins the fleet in 2020 and the Star Princess in 2021.

The Golden Princess will become the Pacific Adventure and will be the largest P&O ship in the Australian fleet in October 2020.

One thing which won’t be changing is the 77,441 ton Pacific Explorer which joined the fleet in 2017. She will continue to carry passengers into Sydney and other Australian ports but will be based Brisbane once the Pacific Adventure joins the fleet.

Larger than her current fleetmates the Pacific Explorer offers plenty of options to keep busy at sea including two waterslides for the family, a waterpark, zip lining, rock climbing and even a barefoot bowling green.

Here are a few snapshots of the Pacific Explorer I’ve taken over the past year.

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Princess(es) in port

Princess Cruises announced this month it will expand operations in Sydney. The 142,000 ton Regal Princess will cruise from the city alongside her sister ship the Majestic Princess from December 2020. The Regal Princess can carry 3,560 passengers.

Princess ships have become familiar sight on Sydney harbour. Here is a gallery of some recent shots of some of the Princess fleet in Sydney.

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MS Noordam in Sydney

Holland America Line’s MS Noordam was back in Sydney this week. She entered service back in 2006 and carries 1,918 passengers and 800 crew.

She is one of HAL’s 4 “compass ships” which are named after the points on the compass. Noordam in Dutch means ‘North’. Her compass sister ships are the Oosterdam, Westerdam and Zuiderdam. She may be in the Southern Hemisphere but her blue hull looks right at home on a sparkling Sydney harbour. Check out my photo gallery below.

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That Carnival feeling

Ferry commuters on Sydney harbour will know that Carnival ships are among the most frequent cruise visitors to Sydney. Here is a selection of shots of Carnival Legend and Carnival Spirit which were regular visitors at Circular Quay over the summer season.

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Cheeky cockatoo checks out the QM2.

Yesterday I was up before dawn to photograph the Queen Mary 2 on her final visit to Sydney for the year. She always draws crowds of ship watchers like myself but this time I had an unexpected friend for part of the journey – a very curious and cheeky cockatoo.

The Sulphur-crested cockatoo is famously known for their bright yellow crest on the top of their head. They are described as being extremely intelligent and can be taught to talk. They’re also cheeky and can live longer than 70 years and their squawk is a routine sound across the city.

As I was busy photographing the Queen Mary 2 at Circular Quay I was joined by one of the very curious cockatoos which decided to photobomb my shoot. Its certainly wasn’t shy – as you can see in the photos below.

It sat on the rail and happily let me snap a few shots before making a grand and colourful getaway. It was one of those ‘Only in Australia’ moments and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Enjoy the photos.

Cockatoo 2
Photo: Jonathon Hall
Cockatoo 3
Photo: Jonathon Hall
Cockatoo 4
Photo: Jonathon Hall
Cockatoo crest
Photo: Jonathon Hall
Cockatoo and QM2
Photo: Jonathon Hall

A royal week continues with Queen Elizabeth in Sydney.

It’s been a very royal week in Sydney. Just days after her bigger sister the Queen Mary 2 was in town the Queen Elizabeth has taken centre stage at Circular Quay.

Cunard recently announced the Queen Elizabeth will be based in here Australia for 101 days during the 2019-2020 cruise season. She will mostly operate from Melbourne.

Cunard Senior Vice President Simon Palethorpe said Queen Elizabeth’s record 2020 season reflected the importance of the Australian cruise market to Cunard.

“Over the past few years we’ve seen unprecedented growth in demand for the Cunard experience in Australia so it made sense for us to invest further in the market and extend the sailing season of Queen Elizabeth even more in 2020,” Mr Palethorpe said.

This week’s visit is a taste of what’s to come next year – long may the Cunard queens reign! See some of my photos of the Queen Elizabeth below.

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Arcadia joins Queen Mary 2 in Sydney

It was a busy Saturday on Sydney harbour with the Queen Mary 2 in town but she wasn’t alone – P&O’s 83,000 ton Arcadia was also in town.

Her 2,000 passengers had a front row seat as Cunard’s flagship Queen Mary 2 cruised into the harbour. Arcadia also had pride of place on Friday night with the Sydney Harbour Bridge lit up in red as part of Chinese New Year celebrations.


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More of Queen Mary 2 in Sydney

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to check out my photos of the Queen Mary 2 in Sydney yesterday. She is a great subject to photograph and with so many vantage points around Circular Quay you can get some great shots.

Here are some of my more arty shots of the QM2. I particularly like the reflection shot from the hotel window which fronts onto the dock – if you stand in just the right spot and get the angle right you can see a perfect mirror image of the ship and Opera House. Hope you enjoy the photos.

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Queen Mary 2 returns to Sydney

There are few sights which can bring the bustling Sydney harbour to a standstill but a royal visit by a Cunard Queen is among them.

This morning as the sun was just creeping over the horizon the ever regal Queen Mary 2 glided into Sydney harbour to berth at Circular Quay. Ferries came to a standstill as the giant liner moved into position in a carefully choreographed ballet.

Keen ship watchers like myself were out early to capture her arrival. Here is a selection of some of my favourite images. Hope you enjoy them.

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