P&O Cruises’ Pacific Sun sailed into Newcastle this morning as the port’s first cruise call. The ship will be based in the city for a series of six cruises over the next two months, which is expected to generate AUS$3 million for the local economy. “Newcastle has been an increasingly popular port of call for visiting cruise ships, but basing a ship here will really put the city on the cruise map,” said Carnival Australia’s CEO Ann Sherry, which operates P&O Cruises. “This is the first time P&O Cruises has homeported one of its ships outside a capital city so it’s a real statement of confidence in Newcastle’s potential.” She added that the decision to homeport in Newcastle reflected the growing demand for cruise holidays amongst Australians. “Cruising is an industry that’s growing rapidly but still has so much more potential for growth,” Sherry explained. “We’re tipping that one million Australians will be cruising annually by 2020, so it’s up to ports like Newcastle to seize the opportunity to be part of this boom.” More than 365,000 Australians took a cruise holiday last year. Pacific Sun will take a 10-night South Pacific voyage visiting Emerald Bat, Noumea, Brisbane and Isle of Pines. Her season will feature three other South Pacific cruises, one Queensland cruise and a two-night cruise to Sydney. The cruise ship will return to Newcastle for a second season in February 2011, sailing on four cruises.