(8.55 a.m. AEST) – P&O Cruises has announced its upcoming 2021 cruise program with highlights including a new ship based in Brisbane, a return to Cairns for a short summer season, and a record number of families expected to sail with the line when Pacific Adventure joins the fleet next year.

The line’s newest ship, the 3,000-passenger Pacific Encounter, will be based in Brisbane from November 2021. The new 2021 summer program of itineraries will see Pacific Encounter offer 11 cruises until January 2022 including itineraries to the South Pacific Islands and Queensland coastal destinations.

P&O Cruises president Sture Myrmell said Pacific Encounter’s new Brisbane home was the next exciting chapter in Queensland’s hugely successful cruise story which has seen the cruise line base ships in the city since 2009.

“By the time Pacific Encounter joins the fleet in late 2021, P&O Cruises will have carried two million guests on itineraries departing from Brisbane and our commitment to providing Queenslanders with memorable Australian cruise holidays doesn’t stop there,” Mr Myrmell said.

“Pacific Encounter will continue to build on P&O’s contemporary product and set new trends in the field of dining, entertainment and family activities to offer something for everyone including families and couples of all ages.”

P&O will also return to Cairns in 2021 with the 2500-passenger Pacific Explorer offering a summer season of four cruises to Papua New Guinea, including an extended 10-night itinerary that also visits the Solomon Islands.

Myrmell said Explorer’s four-cruise series from Cairns was a chance for Northern Queenslanders to experience P&O’s modern cruise product and wide variety of dining and entertainment options that offered something for everyone.

“The series means our cruise fans in Queensland’s tropical north can take a break and explore the idyllic remote beaches, culture and history found in the relatively untouched Solomon Islands and PNG as well as experiencing Pacific Explorer’s popular onboard features,” he said.

Families also remain a firm focus of the new 2021 program which includes the line’s greatest choice of school holiday cruises to date. P&O will carry more than 200,000 people travelling in families or family groups across its fleet after the arrival of Pacific Adventure which offers the largest choice of accommodation options in the line's history with new five-berth family cabins, two-berth family suites that sleep up to eight guests and a record number of interconnecting rooms.

Bookings for P&O's 2021 season are available now.