When P&O Cruises Australia announced it would be staging an inaugural virtual cruise — a four-night short break from Sydney to Moreton Island on flagship Pacific Explorer — the reaction from its cruise loyalists was overwhelming.
Reflecting their continued passion for holidays at sea during the operational pause, thousands signed on to ‘sail from living rooms around Australia’ as Australia’s homegrown cruise line was showered with emphatic pro cruising sentiment on its social media channels.
A Facebook post announcing the virtual cruise reached 94,000 fans alone and more than 35,000 people took part in the live game show with renowned guest entertainer, Danny Black, and live trivia with newly-engaged couple and on board fan-favourites, Julie and Leeron.
P&O Cruises Australia President Sture Myrmell said the spontaneous and enthusiastic reaction to the virtual cruise was very encouraging and a sign that cruising will rebound when the ships are allowed to sail again.
“It is clear from reaction to the virtual cruise that the passion for cruising is undiminished highlighting the need for authorities to agree on a pathway for the restart of cruising in Australia,” Mr Myrmell said.
“It is reasonable for people who wish to cruise again to expect federal and state governments to agree to the resumption of domestic cruise itineraries for Australian guests.
“The cruise industry has established comprehensive policies and protocols for this to happen safely and there is no reason for further delay.”
The Pacific Explorer virtual cruise replicated features of a real short break cruise including dining options, entertainment and shore tour options.
Many of those participating said the virtual cruise would only partly satisfy their hunger for a real holiday at sea when cruising can resume.
Following the overwhelming reaction to the virtual cruise, guests can look forward to similar events as P&O looks at the technical solutions that could allow the cruise line to replicate a sailing in a continuous experience from departure to arrival home.