After more than five years of service, 294 separate voyages and more than half a million passengers welcomed onboard, the ship currently known as Pacific Pearl will leave the P&O Cruises fleet, with her final cruise to come to an end in April next year.

P&O Cruises announced today it had reached agreement to transfer possession of the 1,800-passenger ship to new operators, the identity of whom has been requested to remain confidential. Pacific Pearl’s final voyage will be a 16-day repositioning cruise from New Zealand to Singapore, departing from Auckland on 27 March 2017. Before then, her last round-trip sailing will be a four-night trip to the Bay of Islands from Auckland on 23 March.

The transfer of the ship, according to P&O, comes during a time of significant fleet renewal for the line which began last November with the delivery of the ships now known as Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden. Just after Pearl signs off from service under its current banner, P&O will take delivery of Pacific Explorer (currently Dawn Princess) in May 2017. But the biggest change will come in 2019 when P&O takes delivery of its first ever brand new ship – the first time a newly built ship has been based year-round in Australian waters.

P&O Cruises president Sture Myrmell said Pacific Pearl had earned its place as a firm favourite with guests in Australia and New Zealand in its time with the fleet.

“In becoming a much loved passenger favourite, Pacific Pearl made a huge contribution to building the cruise category in the region particularly in New Zealand, introducing thousands of holidaymakers to the joys of cruising.

“In addition to contributing to the growth of cruising in Australia, Pacific Pearl played a big part in growing the New Zealand season by more than 20 per cent over the past four years. This year, P&O Cruises is sailing from Auckland for a record 140 days.”

Upon the transfer, New Zealand will welcome Pacific Jewel as its new home-ported ship, sailing from Auckland to the South Pacific islands for two months from 01 September 2017 and returning for a second season in 2018.

For the “relatively few” guests currently booked to sail on Pearl past April 2017, P&O Cruises said it will be getting in touch to assist in re-booking these passengers onto an equivalent or near-equivalent cruise on another P&O ship, a choice of other sailings where a near-match is not possible, or a full refund if no suitable alternative is possible.

“Farewelling Pacific Pearl is a natural progression in which we are increasing the size of the fleet while redefining modern cruising in this part of the world,” Myrmell added. This is a very exciting time for P&O Cruises and our guests and is part of our long-term commitment to grow the cruise market.”