P&O Cruises recently refurbished ship, Pacific Jewel, made history this month after becoming the first cruise ship to visit the island nation of Timor-Leste, thirteen years after the country won its independence in 2002.
Calling at the port of Dili, Pacific Jewel and its passengers – the majority Aussies – received a warm welcome from the Timor-Leste community as the P&O ship moored in the country’s capital city.
The occasion was a significant one for both holidaymakers and the Timor-Leste community, as Australia played a vital role in helping the island secure its independence from Indonesia in 2002.
Given the success of the Pacific Jewel port call, P&O plans to expand more of its itineraries to other Asia-Pacific islands. Speaking at a recent press-conference, Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia – who own P&O Cruises – said: “In addition to taking our passengers to otherwise remote destinations offering fabulous scenery and cultural experiences, cruise tourism can become a valuable part of island economies.”
Launching at the end of 2015, P&O’s Pacific Eden will become the second ship to visit Timor-Leste, with hopes that the island will become a permanent port call for various ships from the P&O Cruises’ Australia fleet.
P&O’s visit to Timor-Leste suggests that cruise lines are seeking more exotic destinations in which to transport passengers, and follows a string of recent expansions.
In 2014, Cuban ports were at last opened to US-operated cruise lines, with a high-volume of bookings expected once the embargo is finally lifted for the 2015-16 season. The East Russian port of Kamchatka has also been gaining ground as a luxury cruise destination, with Crystal Cruises offering adventure breaks to the region.
What’s more, Cunard Cruises plan to offer regular sailings to Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic from December 2015 – an area made famous after starring in the original Jurassic Park and one that was off-limits to large cruise ships until recently.
Image sourced via P&O Cruises Press Centre and Flickr Creative Commons. Credit: P&O Cruises, David Stanley, yeowatzup.