P&O Cruises’ latest ship, Pacific Pearl, was officially welcomed to Auckland yesterday, with local Maori tribe, Ngati Whatua, performing a moving ceremony at Queens Wharf.
Representatives of the tribe paddled by waka across the harbour to present Pacific Pearl's godmother, triple Olympic medallist Barbara Kendall, with a feather cloak.
"It's an enormous honour for Pacific Pearl to receive such a traditional welcome to Auckland," said Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia, which operates P&O Cruises.
“We are very appreciative of the gesture and hope that New Zealanders will embrace Pacific Pearl, which will be the largest ship ever to cruise from Auckland,” Ms Sherry said.
P&O Cruises will hold a Pacific Island Family Christmas Festival at Queens Wharf tomorrow night (Tuesday December 21) when the ship will be officially named by Barbara Kendall, with the traditional breaking of a magnum of New Zealand bubbles on the ship.
The naming ceremony will be projected onto the side of the ship for everyone on the wharf to watch.
During the event, a family cruise prize will be raffled with proceeds going to the children of the miners who lost their lives in the Pike River Mine tragedy. A second cruise will also be auctioned on board the ship at a VIP function, with the proceeds also going to the miners' children.
Pacific Pearl’s arrival in Auckland follows a multi-million dollar refit in Singapore, including the creation of new restaurants, bars and lounges, the installation of new carpets and soft furnishings throughout and the addition of a giant poolside entertainment screen.
The 63,500-tonne ship will operate a season of five cruises from Auckland before sailing to Sydney for her Australian debut on February 3.