An enthusiastic group of 15 New Zealand Sea Scouts from the Auckland area today boarded P&O Cruises’ Pacific Aria to become ‘seafarers for a day’ following the 1500-guest ship’s maiden arrival to begin a new local cruise season.
Turned out smartly in their Sea Scouts uniform, the group of boys and girls aged from 10 to 18 participated in sessions on the intricacies of sea navigation from traditional methods using sextants and signal flags to modern satellite technology.
They were joined by a group of Royal New Zealand Navy trainee navigators for whom celestial navigation remains a required element of their Navy training with courses regularly conducted on P&O ships.
All boarded Pacific Aria when the ship arrived at Queens Wharf to begin a new season - a prelude to the longest ever season spanning seven months from April to October next year.
Embarking the ship today, the Sea Scouts were greeted by P&O Cruises’ marine operations manager Doug Bird, a master ship’s navigator who began his career at sea as a 15 year old maritime college cadet in the United Kingdom.
“It seems natural to welcome Sea Scouts from SCOUTS New Zealand -- as seafarers, we have an affinity with young people who share our love of the sea,” Doug said. “Today is an opportunity to share the heritage of seafaring by experiencing traditional methods of navigation through to state of the art satellite navigation.
“Few people know that navigators still learn how to communicate using signal flags and navigate by the stars using sextants just as the mariners of old. In fact, we regularly host on our ships Navy trainees for whom celestial navigation remains a mandatory part of their training. In a special salute for today’s young visitors, we held a special ceremony to raise the Sea Scouts flag on Pacific Aria.”
During the current cruise season, Pacific Aria will be based in Auckland until August giving New Zealand guests an opportunity to cruise to the South Pacific from their doorstep. Looking ahead, Pacific Aria’s marathon seven-month season in 2020 involves 18 cruises ranging from eight to 12 nights and a separate 14-night Bounty Adventure voyage that includes calls to Norfolk Island, Nuku’alofa and destinations in Fiji.
“Our longest ever home porting in Auckland next year has even more opportunities to offer new and longer itineraries that showcase the beauty of the South Pacific,” said Sture
Myrmell, President of P&O Cruises. Sea Scouts Waiheke Chairperson and Leader Sol Harris said SCOUTS New Zealand was pleased to accept P&O Cruises’ invitation for Sea Scouts from the Auckland region to have a big ship experience on Pacific Aria.
"What a fantastic experience for our young Waiheke and Howick Sea Scouts to be welcomed on board Pacific Aria to meet the crew and the Royal NZ Navy navigator trainees
and to hoist the Sea Scouts flag,” Mr Harris said.
“As a community based organisation run by volunteers and funded entirely by donations, we truly appreciate organisations such as P&O who are willing to share these opportunities, which can be incredibly inspirational for our youth. From humble beginnings come great things.
“The chance to learn more about historical navigation juxtaposed with modern technology is fascinating, invaluable and fun. And who knows, maybe we have a future navigator,
engineer or ship’s captain among our kids today?
“We are very grateful to everyone on Pacific Aria for their generosity and for opening their doors to this world at sea. We look forward to our new friends one day visiting us at our Waiheke Sea Scouts Hall, which we call ‘The Ship’, although ours is considerably more cosy than Aria!"