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PACIFIC Encounter was welcomed into Sydney Harbour on Tuesday morning by four local tugboats and a display of banners and water cannons.

The P&O vessel was the second international cruise ship to arrive in Sydney after the pandemic put the industry on hold for more than two years. The first was Pacific Explorer in April.

Engage Towage tugs Diamantina, Martinique and Fitzroy and Port Authority tug Shirley Smith escorted the ship to the Overseas Passenger Terminal at the end of its 12-day voyage from Singapore.

While the tugs were decked out in banners to welcome the ship back to Australia, it is understood Pacific Encounter displayed the message “hero tugs” across its screen on the top deck.

Diamantina and Martinique were among the four tugs which recently prevented bulk carrier Portland Bay from grounding on the coast south of Sydney.

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According to P&O Cruises Australia, Pacific Encounter will remain in Sydney for a short time before it sails up the east coast to Brisbane.

Marguerite Fitzgerald, president of Carnival Australia and P&O Cruises Australia, described Pacific Encounter’s arrival as another step toward rebuilding Australia’s cruise industry.

“It is hard to believe that as warmer weather returns, Australia is now on the way to having a near normal 2022-23 summer cruise season,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

“We can’t wait for Pacific Encounter to depart on her first guest cruise from Brisbane on August 20,” she said.

“This itinerary will include Pacific Encounter’s maiden call to Cairns helping to bring cruise tourism back to Far North Queensland.”

Engage Towage tugs Diamantina and Martinique ready to welcome Pacific Encounter to Sydney. Image: Abby Williams/DCN

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