The Red Cross’ Christchurch earthquake relief effort is $6000 better off after P&O Cruises and Tauranga’s Air New Zealand Holidays Store opened the Pacific Dawn for a public tour.
The ship was alongside at the Port of Tauranga yesterday when 84 people took the opportunity to do some good for Christchurch and indulge in a taste of cruise ship fantasy.
Aboard the Pacific Dawn yesterday (from right) Tauranga Air New Zealand Holidays Store manager Rose Chalmers, P&O Cruises Belinda Clark, P&O Cruises New Zealand manager Shannon Currie, Western Bay of Plenty Red Cross event coordinator Heather Dubrowski and Air New Zealand Holidays Store regional manager Patrick McCarthy.
Each purchased a ticket for the tour with the full amount donated to the Red Cross.
The guests then enjoyed lunch, a guided tour of the ship’s main public facilities and also a rare look inside some cabins.
Guest aboard the ship, Tauranga man Geoff Bird, says the tour was an eye-opener.
“It was awesome to get the opportunity to see what facilities they had,” says Geoff.
“It was an opportunity that you don’t get often and I think they should do it more often because it would help people decide to take a trip on one.”
Geoff is now in the process of booking a cruise next year.
Pacific Dawn alongside at Port of Tauranga.
Organising to open ships for tours is no easy task, however, and P&O Cruises New Zealand manager Shannon Currie says he would like to do it more often if it was simpler.
“We receive many requests from people wanting to have a look around our ships while they are in port, but unfortunately for operational reasons it isn’t usually possible.”
This is due to security concerns, particularly post 9/11.
“However, we made an exception on this occasion because it was an opportunity to help raise funds for such an important cause,” says Shannon of the earthquake relief effort.
“It is a tragedy and we all have friends and family there and so we looked at what we could do.”
Shannon joined with Tauranga’s Air New Zealand Holiday Store manager Rose Chalmers and planned the open day as a unique opportunity.
The tour sold out promptly, with this coming as no surprise for Shannon.
The fundraising tour party.
“The response from the Bay of Plenty residents was fantastic and very inspiring,” says Shannon.
“We know the Bay of Plenty residents love cruising and many people often line the base of the Mount to see our ships come into port, so we weren’t surprised when the fundraising event on the Pacific Dawn sold out so quickly.”
The money was accepted aboard the ship by Western Bay of Plenty Red Cross events coordinator Heather Dubrowski.
“This is a major fundraiser from the Tauranga area,” says Heather.
“It has been an awesome day and lovely to look around.
“It was a very generous effort on behalf of P&O and the Holiday Store and also from all the people who came along and bought tickets.”
The $6000 raised from the ship tour goes into the overall Red Cross pool, which is now in excess of $47 million, with about $20 million of this already paid out in grants.
To receive a grant, an individual must apply and meet certain criteria by showing the depth of their poverty as caused by the earthquake.
Such surroundings are far from the glitz of life aboard a cruise ship, however, and it was a look inside the Pacific Dawn’s steel walls that brought in the Tauranga donors.
Highlights on the ship tour included a look at the Aqua health and fitness spa, at the Kids Club area, through a variety of bars and lounges, at the ship’s theatre and with a fine meal served at the Palm Court Restaurant.
The Pacific Dawn is 251m long, 32.5m wide and weighs 70,000 gross tonnes. It has a passenger capacity of 2050 with a crew ratio of 1:3 with 696 crew.
Feeding such a large amount of people is not easy and in total there are 93 chefs aboard who undertake this task.
The lido deck pool area.
In an average day they prepare more than 8600 meals daily for passengers and crew with these served by a team of 146 waiters.
The clean-up is no mean feat either with 29 dishwashers powering through 13,000 plates, 10,000 glasses and 15,000 pieces of cutlery each day.
The premier restaurant aboard the ship is called the Salt Grill and it offers a menu designed by Masterchef Australia’s Luke Mangan.