The P&O; Pacific Pearl cruise ship off Mooloolaba earlier today. Photo: Karen Simpson via Sunshine Coast Daily Facebook.
The P&O; Pacific Pearl cruise ship off Mooloolaba earlier today. Photo: Karen Simpson via Sunshine Coast Daily Facebook.

Bad weather kills P&O cruise ship boost for Coast

MOTHER Nature has conspired against the Sunshine Coast with rain forcing the cancellation of plans for hundreds of cruise ship passengers to visit the region.

The Pacific Pearl, operated by P&O Cruises, anchored early Saturday morning about one kilometre offshore from Mooloolaba carrying a full complement of 1800 passengers on a four-day cruise from Sydney.

But the plan for passengers to disembark to visit the region was called off because of the appalling weather.

The cruise ship was expected to return to Sydney.

The council urged locals instead to join the party.

Sunshine Coast mayor Mark Jamieson urged locals to head down to Mooloolaba this weekend to support businesses and restaurants who stocked up in anticipation for bumper sales due to the cruise passengers.

"I would encourage all Sunshine Coasters to get down to Mooloolaba and the Wharf to support those businesses that have stocked up for the even and are now at risk of not being able to sell that stock," Mr Jamieson said.

"I'm sure they will be very eager to look after locals this weekend, so get down and let them know you are supporting them.

"P and O have been overwhelmed by the level of enthusiasm and level of support from the Sunshine Coast.

"They've gone on record saying they've never had a welcome like this before."

P&O; Pacific Pearl.
P&O; Pacific Pearl. Supplied

The Sunshine Coast Council, together with Mooloolaba tourism operators, had spent months of planning into the first official visit to the region by a cruise ship.

Mr Jamieson said the Coast had been beaten 'at the last hurdle' by the inclement conditions.

The Sunshine Coast had planned to welcome Pacific Pearl's arrival with a "Paddle to the Pearl" stand-up paddle and outrigger boat race from Mooloolaba Beach opposite the Yacht Club to the ship and back, with other races in the same waters taking place all day.

P&O Cruises said they had been overwhelmed by the Coast community's enthusiasm for Pacific Pearl's inaugural visit.

"Pacific Pearl is arriving with a full complement of 1800 passengers and a crew of more than 700 who couldn't be more excited about adding a new destination to P&O Cruises' repertoire,'' officials said in a statement earlier this week.

"All the high profile activities along the Mooloolaba seafront have heightened the sense of occasion conveying a strong sense that Pacific Pearl is making local tourism history."

Mayor Mark Jamieson said the first-ever cruise ship to Mooloolaba and the Coast had offered the equivalent of more than three A380 or Dreamliner super-jets arriving at our airport.

Passengers were to receive a Mooloolaba "passport" as they disembarked at The Wharf.