Pacific Dawn (ship)

Pacific Dawn is a cruise ship owned by Carnival Corporation and operated by P&O Cruises Australia. She was built in 1991 by the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy as Regal Princess. The ship was ordered by Sitmar Cruises, but delivered to Princess Cruises, and later deployed to the fleet of P&O Cruises Australia.[2]

Pacific Dawn
  • Regal Princess (1991–2007)
  • Pacific Dawn (2007–2021)
  • Princess Cruises (1991–2007)
  • P&O Cruises Australia (2007-2021)
Port of registry:
  • Italy, Palermo (1991–1992)
  • Liberia, Monrovia (1992–2000)
  • Bermuda, Hamilton (2000–2007)
  • United Kingdom, London (2007–2021)
Cost: US$276.8 million
Yard number: 5840
Launched: 29 March 1990
Acquired: 20 July 1991
Maiden voyage: August 1991
Out of service: February 2021 (Pacific Encounter taking place)
Status: In service
Notes: [1][2][3]
General characteristics
Tonnage: 70,285 GT
Length: 245.06 m (804 ft 0 in)
Height: 56.00 m (183 ft 9 in)
Draught: 8.218 m (26 ft 11.5 in)
Decks: 11 passenger decks
Installed power:
  • 4 × 8-cylinder MAN B&W diesel electric
  • combined 38,800 kW
Propulsion: Two electric motors of 12MW each, two propellers 6 blades, Ø 5.8 m (19 ft 0 in)
  • 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph) (cruising)
  • 22.5 knots (41.7 km/h; 25.9 mph) (maximum)
Capacity: 2,020 passengers
Crew: 660
Notes: [3][4]
Fuel oil capacity2,727 t (2,684 long tons; 3,006 short tons)
Fuel consumption1,700 imp gal (7,700 l)/hr
(75 ft/gallon, 6 m/l)
General characteristics (as built)[2]
Class and type: Crown Princess-class cruise ship
Decks: 15
Ramps: 2
Speed: 19.5 knots (36.1 km/h; 22.4 mph)
Notes: [3]

After her multimillion-dollar refurbishment in Singapore from Regal Princess to Pacific Dawn, she operates from Australia to South Pacific destinations. Her renaming coincided with P&O's 75th anniversary in Australia.[5] In February 2021, Pacific Dawn will leave the P&O fleet. She will then be handed over to CMV who've purchased her.[6]

Concept and construction

Sitmar Cruises had started an ambitious new building programme for the North American cruise market in 1985. Following an abortive attempt to order ships from the Italy-based Fincantieri, the company had placed an order for one ship, Sitmar Fairmajesty, with the Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard in France. Sitmar were planning to order additional vessels however, and the Italian government—owners of Fincantieri—were eager to have these ships built by an Italian shipyard. Following negotiations between Sitmar and Fincantieri, the former placed an order for two 70,000 GT cruise ships with the latter, to be delivered in 1990 and 1991.[7] Although the ships maintained the same basic layout of Sitmar Fairmajesty, their exteriors were redesigned by the Italian architect Renzo Piano.[8]

In 1988, while the two new ships ordered from Fincantieri were in the early stages of construction, Sitmar Cruises was sold to P&O Group and the three Sitmar ships under construction were transferred to the fleet of P&O's subsidiary Princess Cruises.[8] The second of the ships under construction at Fincantieri was launched from drydock on 29 March 1990 and named Regal Princess.[1] Following successful sea trials on 5 June 1991 Regal Princess was delivered on 20 July 1991 to Astamar, a subsidiary of P&O Group.[1][2]

Service history

1991–2007: Regal Princess

Following delivery, Regal Princess sailed to New York City where she was officially named by the former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on 8 August 1991.[9] Subsequently, Regal Princess entered service by joining her sister ship Crown Princess in cruising out of Fort Lauderdale to the Caribbean during the northern hemisphere winter, transferring to the Alaskan trade for the summer months.[1] In 1992 the ownership of the vessel was transferred from Astamar to Princess Cruises and she was transferred from the Italian registry under Liberian flag.[10]

In 2000 Regal Princess received a major refurbishment.[11] From the same year until 2003, she spent the southern hemisphere summer months cruising out of Sydney, taking over Princess Cruises' Australian itenaries following the transfer of another former Sitmar ship, the Sky Princess, to P&O Cruises Australia as Pacific Sky.[12]

For the 2003 northern hemisphere summer season, Regal Princess was repositioned for cruises on the Mediterranean Sea and Baltic Sea.[13] While on a repositioning cruise from Copenhagen to New York in August 2003, a number of passengers and crew on board Regal Princess were infected by the Norwalk virus. The number of infected people on board eventually rose to 217, and the decision was made for the ship to drop planned calls in Greenland and Newfoundland in favour of sailing directly to New York. By the time the ship arrived in New York on 2 September 2003, one day ahead of schedule, only four people on board were still suffering from the virus. The ship was again disinfected and was able to depart on her next scheduled cruise without problems.[14]

In 2004 Regal Princess was planned to join her sister ship A'Rosa Blu (ex-Crown Princess) in the fleet of A'Rosa Cruises, P&O Cruises' brand aimed at the German market, but the transfer was cancelled following the sale of A'Rosa Cruises to Arkona in 2003.[14][15] In late 2006 Regal Princess was due to transfer to the fleet of Ocean Village, but this too was cancelled.[15] Instead, Regal Princess was transferred to the fleet of P&O Cruises Australia in late 2007.[2][15]

Since 2007: Pacific Dawn

Following an extensive refurbishment, Regal Princess was renamed Pacific Dawn on 8 November 2007 by olympic gold medalist Cathy Freeman.[16] In December 2009, Pacific Dawn was moved to its new home port in Hamilton, Brisbane, to allow Pacific Jewel and Pacific Pearl to be based in Sydney.

In May 2010 Pacific Dawn went into dry dock in Brisbane for extensive refurbishment.

In November 2014, the ship was dry-docked in Sydney, Australia for the addition of "The Edge" activities (including a zip-line, "crow's nest experience" and rock-climbing wall), a refurbishment of the Waterfront Restaurant and a cosmetic make-over of the pool deck

In November 2019, P&O cruises Australia announced Pacific Dawn and sister ship Pacific Aria are to be retired in February and April 2021 respectively with both being replaced by the larger Pacific Encounter which is currently sailing as Star Princess in November 2021[17] Her final voyage under the P&O Cruises Australia banner is schedule on the 8 February and will see her travel from Melbourne, Australia, around the east coast of Australia and then to Singapore where she will end her voyage and be handed over to future owners CMV (Cruise & Maritime Voyages).


The distinctive curved forwards superstructure of the ship, designed by Renzo Piano, was inspired by the dolphin.[8] Unlike the previous P&O Cruises Australia ships, Pacific Dawn has an all-white hull, to mark P&O's 75th anniversary in Australia.[18]

Incidents and accidents

Grounding in Cairns

While on a cruise from Sydney to destinations in Asia on 15 March 2001, Regal Princess experienced difficulties when entering the port of Cairns, due to high winds. While she made it safely to the harbour, it was decided to postpone her departure by eight hours, allowing the winds to subdue and use more favourable tidal conditions. Despite these precautions Regal Princess was grounded while outbound from Cairns, but was able to free herself under her own power after just four minutes. The ship then returned to Cairns for preliminary inspections. Due to sea conditions the hull of the ship could not be inspected by divers in Cairns, and the ship was allowed to sail to Darwin for a full inspection of the hull. In Darwin minor damage to the ship's bulbous bow was discovered, but this did not threaten her safety and Regal Princess was cleared to continue her cruise. A subsequent study to the causes of the accident concluded Regal Princess was too large to safely traverse the narrow channel leading into Cairns, and that "commercial incentives ... may have influenced the approval process to exceed the limits of a reasonable safety envelope."[12]

Huatulco mishap

In February 2007 on the Panama Canal cruise (G705), following a brief scheduled stop at the pier in Huatulco harbor in Mexico, Regal Princess ran aground, making contact on her port side while backing out of the harbor due to high winds from the southeast, and listed at least five degrees to starboard. The ship freed itself and continued on to Acapulco at reduced speed and later was seen from the air severely listed to starboard, during inspection/repair in the harbor there. The subsequent scheduled cruise was cancelled due to the damage repair/inspection.

Sydney swine flu outbreak

On 25 May 2009, Pacific Dawn docked in Sydney Harbour. It was reported that 130 of approximately 2,000 passengers had flu-like symptoms and two five-year-old boys subsequently tested positive for Swine flu. New South Wales Health authorities ordered all 2,000 passengers from the ship to stay at home, or in hotel rooms, for seven days as a form of self-imposed quarantine.

The cases of Swine flu from Pacific Dawn were the first reported contagious cases of Swine flu in Sydney.

On 26 May 2009, it was reported that 14 passengers from Pacific Dawn had tested positive for Swine flu. At the time, as measured against the confirmed cases for nation states, Pacific Dawn carried the 14th largest number of confirmed cases. It ranked ahead of the nations of mainland China, Hong Kong, Brazil and New Zealand.

Gateway Bridge near miss

On 10 April 2010 Pacific Dawn lost power on the Brisbane River on approach to the Gateway Bridge. The pilot and tugs brought the ship to a full stop within 70m of the newly built second structure and the dead ship was towed back to Portside Wharf in Hamilton, Queensland, where an investigation later determined a failure was due to a blown fuse from a saltwater leak.[19]

Death of Natasha Schofield

On 12 April 2018, at 4pm Natasha Schofield, 47 at the time, fell 40 meters over the side of the ship. Her husband was with her at the time and was quick to raise the alarm. The ship left its set course and began a search, which lasted until 8am the following day. She had three children who were on the cruise but were not there to witness the event. The ship returned to Brisbane, Australia on 15 April 2018. By reviewing security footage, police determined that the event had been a suicide shown by Schofield's leap over the railing.[20]


  1. Plowman, Peter (2004). The Sitmar Liners: Past and Present. Hong Kong: Rosenberg. p. 202. ISBN 1-877058-25-4.
  2. Asklander, Micke. "M/S Regal Princess (1991)". Fakta om Fartyg (in Swedish). Retrieved 31 October 2008.
  3. Ward, Douglas (2008). Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships. London: Berlitz. pp. 510–511. ISBN 978-981-268-564-3.
  4. "Pacific Dawn". P&O Cruises Australia. Retrieved 30 August 2008.
  5. "A New Dawn" at P&O Cruises Australia
  6. Bond, Mary (28 November 2019). "CMV to add two more ships in 2021". Seatrade Cruise News.
  7. Plowman (2006). pp. 178–179.
  8. Plowman (2006). pp. 195–196.
  9. Pacific Dawn – Ship Review by Joanna Hall
  10. ""Regal Princess – London, England"".
  11. Hannafin, Matt; Sarna, Heidi. Frommer's Cruises & Ports of Call 2007. p. 245. ISBN 978-0-471-78864-5.
  12. Plowman (2006). pp. 249–253.
  13. Plowman (2006). pp. 261–262.
  14. Plowman (2006). pp. 269–272.
  15. Boyle, Ian. "Regal Princess". Simplon Postcards. Retrieved 31 October 2008.
  16. "Cathy Freeman takes small step onto giant boat", The Age (13 November 2008)
  17. Staff, C. I. N. (25 November 2019). "Pacific Dawn and Pacific Aria to Leave P&O Australia Fleet in 2021". Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  18. "Super New Look for Australia's First Superliner" at P&O Cruises Australia
  19. AAP writers (10 April 2010). "Cruise ship Pacific Dawn stops just 70m from Gateway Bridge". The Courier-Mail. Retrieved 3 July 2010.
  20. Megan Palin (17 April 2018). "Pacific Dawn docks in Brisbane after losing a passenger overboard". The Courier-Mail. Retrieved 5 October 2018.

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