First ship-load of Pacific Aria passengers visit Fraser
ON A CRUISE several years in the making, the first ship-load of Pacific Aria passengers has toured World Heritage-listed Fraser Island.
Pacific Aria spent Sunday anchored off Kingfisher Bay Resort while the majority of its 1500 passengers visited the island.
About 3am pilot Mike Lutze and the bridge crew began navigating the 55,820 tonne Aria through the shallow Sandy Strait.
Mr Lutze said everything ran "like clockwork" and the ship was able to enter the channel, sometimes with only several metres of water below it.
"It's the biggest ship I've bought down into here but she handled beautifully," he said.
Corinna Tindall: Fantastic news for our region... this wont happen overnight but for those 1000 new visitors to the island. . A good percentage of those will return with friends and families for longer stays in the future where they will venture/spend/ stay on the mainland. This is fantastic and the rest of the Fraser Coast will feel the ripple effect of these cruise ship stopovers in time. Rome wasn't built in a day... see the glass half full not half empty people.
Charlie Wright: Again Hervey Bay at it's best - bring on the reconstruction to the length of the pier.
Damian Huxham: Great stuff! Its all about promoting the region. This will have benefits down the track. Its great to a ship that size in the straits.
Rach Fox: Yep, seen it this morning, awesome! Can't wait to go on my cruise to Airlie Beach.
Tracy Stankovic: Awesome experience
On Fraser Island visitors travelled to see the towering trees at Central Station and the crystal clear water of Lake McKenzie.
Some passengers boarded the Tasman Venture to travel to Wathumba Creek on the island's western side. Fraser Coast Opportunities' tourism manager Tas Webber said the entity would now look at expanding the region's partnership with P&O.
"We are working at trying to get more products to go over to the mainland," Mr Webber said.
"When people are coming from other regions they are wanting to see the iconic destination which is Fraser Island."
The Aria and sister ship Pacific Eden will make five trips between them in 2017 and P&O president Sture Myrmell said the 2018 itinerary was being planned.
"We anticipate growing this destination," he said.
Future cruises will include tours to Hervey Bay and Maryborough.
Kingfisher Bay Resort Group general manager David Hay said joining as a cruise destination cemented the place as a tourist hotspot.
"It's a major step for not only Fraser Island and Kingfisher Bay Resort but for the Fraser Coast region as a tourism destination."
He said it was "too early" to assess the economic benefits of the ship's visit.
The Aria will arrive back at the Port of Brisbane tomorrow morning.
The ship has 680 cabins, including 120 balcony cabins and a penthouse.
There are eight dining choices aboard the ship, from Indian and Mexican cuisines to fish and chips, fresh sandwiches and cakes.