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  1. 1. P&O’s Pacific Abstract Tourism histories are few. Cruising is a new area of academic research. This paper seeks to contribute a new chapter to the history of tourism in the South Pacific Ngaire Douglas by dealing with cruising as an and aspect of that history, thus filling a gap in the body of Norman Douglas tourism literature. The main focus of the study is the Peninsular and Orient Steam Navigation Company (P&O) which has been one of the most active organisations in world and regional cruising Towner (1988) claims that historians generally have shown this century. The first part scant regard for tourism as a subject for study, while writers on deals with the development of tourism have been demonstrably deficient in historical perspective. the company’s Australian and These deficiencies are being redressed gradually (for example, Pacific connections while the Douglas, 1996) but there remain major areas which could benefit from second part deals with the historical investigation, indeed which require it. Research directed at choice and development of tourism in the Pacific Islands deals almost exclusively with Pacific Island locations as contemporary trends (Ranck, 1984, 1987; Britton & Clarke, 1987; appropriate ports of call and Milne, 1991; Sofield, 1993; Hall & Page, 1996). With only a few the manner in which exceptions (de Burlo, 1989; Douglas, 1996; Douglas & Douglas, 1996), diversions were created to the historical basis of Pacific Islands tourism has been ignored. The entertain the passengers significance of these observations for this article is that pleasure while ashore. It is necessary cruising to the Pacific Islands represented the historical beginnings of to include references to the tourism to the region. cruising activities of Burns Philp & Co. Ltd. (BP), the Cruising to the Pacific Islands from Australia began over a Australian company which century ago, yet it has been given little recognition. In the most recent pioneered the practice of survey of the cruise industry’s global significance, the Pacific Islands cruising in the Western receive no specific mention at all, and cruise ships which regularly Pacific in 1884. service the region are subsumed into the category “Australia and the Far East” (Peisley, 1992). Cruising’s long association with the region is dismissed with the observation: “Historically, it has been a low cost travel option with a younger age profile for its passengers than in Europe” (Peisley, 1992, p. 22). For his historical perspective the author looks no further back than the late 1970s. A follow-up study by the same author dealing with cruise shipping to the next century similarly omits any reference to the Pacific (Peisley, 1995). Even the Commonwealth Department of Tourism’s own discussion paper on a Dr Ngaire Douglas is a Lecturer, national cruise shipping strategy for Australia dismisses history in a Centre for Tourism, Southern single sentence “P&O has been a major player in Australian based Cross University, Lismore , cruising since the 1970s” (1994, p. 2). Lawton and Butler (1987), Australia. writing about cruising in the Caribbean, state “the industry has Dr Norman Douglas is Director, important economic, social and cultural effects upon many parts of the Pacific Profiles Research region”. Yet, as they also found, there is an “absence of relevant Consultancy, Alstonville, research on the topic”. The main purpose of this article is to document Australia. the role of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company 2 THE JOURNAL OF TOURISM STUDIES Vol. 7, No. 2, DEC. '96
  2. 2. (P&O) in South Pacific cruising. was the first of a series of their contract ships sailing to the However, the story must public ations dedicated to Mediterranean (Howarth & necessarily acknowledge the promoting the benefits of travel, Howarth, 1986). P&O, by contribution of Burns Philp & Co. and of cruising in particular, and offering free passage to novelist Ltd. (BP) for pioneering Pacific by 1913 the company had William Thac keray, also cruising and holding a virtual established a speciality tourist sponsored the founding of what monopoly for several decades office at its impressive was to become a popular pastime over what was to become a major headquarters in Bridge Street, in Pacific cruising - the component of tourism activity, Sydney, and had travel experts in publishing of the account of one’s and tourism revenue, for the its other main branch offices cruising experience. Pacific (Douglas & Douglas, (Douglas, 1996). By the 1930s a 1996). certain level of luxury was P&O’s first ship in Australian expected by Australian waters was the Chusan w h i c h The first part deals with the passengers and ships like the sailed into Sydney on 3 August establishment of P&O in the Macdhui were designed to please. 1852 after a harrowing eighty South Pacific and its move into She had accommodation for 138 day voyage from London. Like cruising (from point A returning persons in two, three and four BP’s Melanesian services, the to point A) as opposed to line berth cabins with each berth route had been established as a voyages (from point A to point C having a private locker and mail contract but it was the fast via point B). The second part wardrobe, r eading lamp and steamer service with superior discusses the shift from the “Thermos bottle for iced water”. passenger accommodation which earlier "cargo-driven ports" of call The public rooms boasted oak won applause. The service was to the latter "passenger-driven" panelling, mahogany fittings and briefly interrupted in 1854 by the ports of call and the gradual fine upholstery in pastel tones. shipping demands of the Crimean establishment of a Pacific cruise The promenade deck was War but in 1858 P&O resumed circle. spacious enough for deck games - the mail run and the company “even cricket”. The most modern has been sailing in the South Bloody Pirates “Punkah Louvre” mechanical Pacific ever since. ventilation system changed the On 16 February 1884 BP placed air frequently. “Cinema The first designated cruise an advertisement in the Sydney apparatus” entertained the scheduled by P&O out of Sydney Morning Herald for a five week passengers. It was style and was on 23 December 1932 when cruise from Thursday Island to comfort all the way (Wilkinson & the Strathaird (Table 1) departed New Guinea onboard the Elsea. Willson, 1981). BP’s best on a short five day trip to Norfolk The company had secured the remembered vessel, the B u l o l o , Island. As the ship slipped away mail contract between Australia which represented for many the from the dock a new era in and the islands to the north and heights of luxury cruising, with Australian tourism began. for the canny Scottish operators her glass sided swimming pool Within three days of the cruise tourists were seen as another and airconditioning, continued to being announced it had been fully form of profitable cargo. BP dominate the route between booked by 498 first class and 668 acquired the nickname “Bloody Sydney and Papua New Guinea tourist class passengers. Saloon Pirates” as a description of their until she was finally withdrawn and tourist passengers are tough island trade practices. It in 1968. It marked the end of an enjoying similar privileges, can be assumed that the first trip era for cruising in the Pacific eve ryone seeing pictures on was a success for a further (Pacific Islands Monthly, alternate nights, reported a advertisement on 29 September February 1968; Douglas, 1996). Sydney newspaper (P&O, 1982). 1884 indicated that a trip on the The rest of the story detailed the comfortable clipper yacht offered The entry of P&O fashions on display. “Women “capital shooting and fishing and hardly outnumber the men as intending passengers should take The p eriod between the two much as was expected. A number rifles and fishing tackle”. South world wars was the time when of girls are wearing flannel Pacific cruising, destined to be cruising came into its own as a slacks, a trio in blue with check the driving force behind the rapid desirable tourist experience. shirts looking bright and smart”. growth in tourism during the Cruising purely for pleasure - as One of five “Strath” ships built in 1960s and 1970s, was opposed to a means of getting the 1930s, the Strathaird sported established. from one place to another - was the all white hull which was to initiated in 1844 by Arthur become synonymous with P&O In 1886 BP made another Anderson, Co-founder of the cruise ships. Encouraged by the innovative move into South Peninsular and Oriental Steam response, P&O planned a series Pacific tourism with the Navigation Company (P&O), of Pacific Island cruises publication of a guide book when he suggested selling round throughout the 1930s on a entitled British New Guinea. It tickets on their established mail variety of vessels. Some were THE JOURNAL OF TOURISM STUDIES Vol. 7, No. 2, DEC. '96 3
  3. 3. Table 1: P&O in the Pacific. Strathnaver and four Orient Line Vessel Participated in First class Single Class ships sailed slowly down Sydney Pacific cruising /tourist class conversion Harbour in single file escorted by a flotilla of small vessels and Strathaird 1932 - 1961 498/668 1252 (1954) cheered by thousands lining the Strathnaver 1932 - 1962 498/668 1252 (1954) Maloja 1933 - 1954 327/329 1030 (1954) shores. But while leisure was Mooltan 1934 - 1953 346/336 1030 (1947) certainly not the purpose of the Otranto* 1932 - 1957 572/500 1416 (1948) voyage, in the ongoing Australian Orontes* 1932 - 1962 460/400 1410 (1953) spirit of cruising, the troops Strathmore 1935 - 1963 445/665 1200 (1961) played crown and anchor all the Orion* 1935 - 1963 486/653 1691 (1960) way to Egypt (The Bulletin, 6 Stratheden 1937 - 1963 448/563 1200 (1961) August 1977). The post war era Himalaya 1949 - 1974 758/401 1416 (1963) saw a flurry of ship ordering by Orsova* 1954 - 1973 681/813 n/a P&O to replace its heavy loses. Iberia 1954 - 1972 673/733 n/a Arcadia 1959 - 1979 675/735 1372 (1970) By 1955 seven new fast Orcades* 1955 - 1972 773/772 1635 (1964) passenger ships, H i m a l a y a , Canberra 1960 - 548/1650 1500 (1972) Chusan, Orcades, Oronsay, Chusan 1963 - 1973 475/551 n/a Arcadia, Orsova and Iberia were Oriana* 1960 - 1986 638/1496 1500 (1973) servicing the Australian Fairstar** 1965 - 1870 1280 (1974) immigrant trade, providing line Sea Princess*** 1979 - 840 n/a voyages to England and doing Pacific Princess*** 1974 - 767 n/a short South Pacific cruises. Island Princess*** 1976 - 767 n/a Royal Princess*** 1984 - 1260 n/a The Himalaya became P&O’s * Orient Line ** Sitmar *** Princess Cruises flagship in the Pacific cruise business. Originally fitted with Source: Plowman, P. (1992). Emigrant ships to luxury liners. 758 first class and 401 tourist Sydney: NSW University Press, Sydney. class berths, she was converted in 1963 to a one class, tourist class ship for 1416 passengers. In being used primarily to bring 1974 she made her farewell migrants to Australia and the P&O had also been present in the voyage from Sydney bound for short cruises were programmed Pacific as substantial Taiwanese ship breakers, saluted between these more profitable shareholders of the Orient Line by thousands who remembered voyages. P&O had been in the since 1918. Orient ships like the her fondly (Plowman, 1992). The Australian immigrant trade since Oronsay occasionally crossed the Orcades was another trans- acquiring the Blue Anchor Line Pacific on line voyages between formed for the tourist class. Built in 1910. Indeed company the United Kingdom and in 1948, she originally had takeovers were a P&O speciality Australia. Tanna, in Vanuatu, accommodation for 773 first class and by 1940, it had subsumed received a visit from her during and 772 tourist class passengers well over a dozen other lines and one such crossing in August, who sailed on the line voyages was operating nearly 500 ships of 1933, when everyone made for between England and Australia. diverse purpose worldwide. The Whitesands to see the “big fellow In 1956 she served as a floating Strathnaver, launched in 1932, steamer”. Sadly the weather did hotel during the Melbourne was designed specifically to bring not permit the American tourists Olympic Games. In keeping with to passenger shipping a degree of to come ashore even though the the changing demands of the energy, speed and beauty never administration had promised to market and with the policies of before attempted. She was a two give them “freedom of the island P&O, Orcades was refitted in class ship and for the first time for the day” (Pacific Islands 1964 to take 1,635 tourist class the less wealthy passengers Monthly, 1933). passengers only and spent the found themselves called not last years of her life - she was “second class”, but “tourist class”, Post World War II scrapped in 1973 - doing short subtly suggesting that they had cruises around the Pacific, the time and money literally to B ut even as the great white Mediterranean and the tour, rather than having to go liners were developing their Caribbean. quickly and cheaply from one Pacific cruise operations, war place to another (Howarth & once again interrupted services The 1960s was a busy decade: a Howarth, 1986). Certainly some and the cruise ships were full merger with the Orient Line distinctions remained; while all diverted to the cause. For many took place in 1960, but the cabins had running water, only Australians their first experience resulting business name - P&O- first class had both hot and cold of a cruise ship was as a troop Orient Lines - proved too clumsy water. carrier. On 10 January 1940 the and the “Orient” was dropped in 4 THE JOURNAL OF TOURISM STUDIES Vol. 7, No. 2, DEC. '96
  4. 4. 1966. Nine cruises operated that tourism development in the year; by 1969 they had increased South Pacific was the increasing to 36. With the arrival of the reliance on aeroplanes for Oriana and the Canberra i n transport. He regretted that 1961, the latter launched on 16 most of the ships which had plied March 1960 by Australian Dame these waters prior to 1939 had Pattie Menzies, another new era not returned to service and while of tourist shipping began. Both the fast, efficient air services had ships carried nearly 2,000 certainly revolutionised the lives passengers in luxurious of the expatriates, tourists did surroundings and outd oor not want to tour by air: recreation areas were featured extensively in all promotional The average tourist...does not material with special emphasis want to be hurled across the on the pool decks. The company world, ten thousand feet above predicted that tourist shipping in the clouds, at 300 miles per the region would double. Far hour. He wants to forget the from the era being the “all air more mundane things, sit in a age”, it declared, the Pacific deck chair, watch blue water passenger trade was only in its slip by, share in the pleasures infancy, especially in the of ship-board life. To see new moderately priced tourist class places, new faces certainly - but sphere (Pacific Islands Monthly, to come back to the comfort of a February 1960). Oriana a n d good cabin on a well-found Canberra were synonymous with cruising in the South Pacific (Figure 1) right up until the late 1980s when age and changing In the mid 1970’s a decline in cruising as a demand from big vessels to transport option can be noted but was offset by smaller, more intimate, and even cruising as a tourism activity in itself. more luxurious ships finally toppled them from their pinnacle. The challenge of the jet age ship when he wishes...It is Jet aircraft began commercial doubtful that Tourism by air operations over the South Pacific will ever have the subtle appeal in the mid 1960s. World War II of a cruise or round trip by sea had revolutionised air transport (Robson, 1950) and one of the legacies was a series of first class airstrips But the competition from air strategically placed like stepping traffic continued to grow, stones across the South Pacific. Robson’s opinions notwith- Airlines like Pan American which standing. Fewer people now had had j ust begun commercial the time to travel by sea and jets operations when the war started offered to cut travel by weeks. In were quick to resume their 1976 P&O offered only three UK- business after 1945 and there Australia and one Australia-USA was a flurry of nationalisation of line voyages. The decline, airlines around the Pacific. In however, was offset by the the late 1940s and 1950s luxury growing demand for cruises. In flying boats had operated in the 1978 30 cruises into the South region, their ability to land in Pacific were scheduled, ranging tropical lagoons adding to their in length from eight days to charm and appeal. Some routes nearby Port Vila and Noumea for such as the “flying boat cruise $362, to 15 days out to service” on Frigate Bird became Nuku’alofa in Tonga via Suva quite famous (Taylor, 1964). Not and Lautoka in Fiji, Santo and everybody approved of flying. R. Port Vila in Vanuatu and W. Robson, editor of P a c i f i c Noumea, New Caledonia for Islands Monthly , felt that one of $627. The Arcadia and the the biggest obstacles to further Oriana, the latter promoted as THE JOURNAL OF TOURISM STUDIES Vol. 7, No. 2, DEC. '96 5
  5. 5. 6 THE JOURNAL OF TOURISM STUDIES Vol. 7, No. 2, DEC. '96
  6. 6. the “biggest ship cruising the been able to come up with European migrants to Australia. South Pacific” (The Bulletin, anything to match”. “Steam set” However, in 1952 Sitmar opened August 1977) wer e the most did not seem like an acceptable an Australian office to market its popular ships. The O r i a n a alternative (Douglas, 1996). return voyages to young acquired a special place in Australians in particular who Australia’s tourism history. Her But while Pac ific Islands were setting out on their own arrival had been so eager ly M o n t h l y (1975) was reporting “Grand Tours”. For many now anticipated by Australians that “Halcyon days of the tourist trade middle-aged Australians the six when she sailed into Sydney on are over”, P&O launched a “new” week trip to Europe on a ship 30 December 1960 newspapers ship, Pacific Princess, onto the remains the fondest memory, simply headlined “She’s Here” Pacific cruise scene, the first filled with romance, freedom, (P&O, 1986). From 1973 to 1981 since the arrival of the Canberra continuous parties, dashing Oriana did an annual three in 1961. In 1974, in keeping with Italian crew, cramped cabins, month cruise season out of its corporate tradition and as strange ports and eventual Sydney, her original passenger part of its expansion programme arrival in England absolutely complement of 638 first class and into cruise operations in the exhausted. By 1974 Sitmar 1496 tourist class restructured to world’s biggest cruise market, abandoned the line voyage 1500 tourist class only for the P&O had taken over Princess entirely, concentrating on its Australian market. Her final sail Cr uises, a very successful highly successful cruise market down Sydney Harbour on 28 May American company which knew which it had initiated in the late 1986 en route to Japan to become how to satisfy the experienced 1960s and which operated in very a fixed, floating cultural and and demanding American cruise much the same manner and with tourist centre in Beppu, Kyushu, market segment. Success was similar results as the European was marked by an escort of small further assured in 1975 when a trips. Initially two ships, the boats, fire boat displays and television producer decided to use Fairsky and the F a i r s t a r throngs of past passengers a luxury cruise boat as the maintained the programme but waving from all possible vantage setting for his new series, T h e since 1977 the latter has points onshore (Plowman, 1992). Love Boat. Twenty years later maintained its position as the the series is still syndicated in 85 longest oper ating, most The mid 1970s was also a period countries (P&O, 1994) and bar consistently popular vessel in the of international crisis in fuel tenders, pursers, ships’ doctors South Pacific, its price and supplies and costs; this affected and captains must live with the marketing strategy - Fairstar the itinerary planning considerably, reputation it bequeathed them. F u n s h i p - ensuring its success. with some shipping lines The Island Prince ss and the Part of its “other” reputation is withdrawing from the market Pacific Princess were built encapsulated in a comment by altogether or cancelling cruises, essentially for the lucrative Judith Wood, a long time both moves having long reaching cruise market between New York resident and artefact dealer of effects on island economies. It and Bermuda (Plowman, 1992) Port Vila. If the Fairstar should was estimated that cruise and were the first of the smaller, ever leave the Pacific, I fear for passengers spent $40 a day in more luxurious liners which were what will happen to many, many ports and the cancellation of two popular in the 1970s and 1980s. T-shirt shops! And the Marconi and Galileo ( L l o y d Between them they maintained passengers - I think they must put Triestino Line) cruises in 1974 fairly regular South Pacific ugly pills in their drinking water! for instance, was estimated to schedules up to the early 1990s, (Douglas, 1996, 232). P&O, again mean a loss of $100,000 to small coming down in the northern exercising the “if you can’t beat businesses in various Pacific winter in an effort to tempt the them, absorb them” principle, ports (Douglas, 1996). P&O lucrative American market to bought Sitmar in 1988. In reduced the speed of its ships, venture down with them. More Australia Sitmar’s “Funship” which meant arriving at ports a successful have been their round became a separate marketing little later and leaving earlier. the world cruises which p ass operation as P&O Fairstar. I n The reduced port time affected through the Pacific rather than 1996 P&O announced that the the income of people like making it the destination in ageing vessel would be retired in handicraft sellers and transport itself. January 1997, and replaced with operators, the two sectors of Fair Princess, which had begun Pacific communities which The Fun Ship life in 1956 as Fairsea. Advance managed to benefit directly from publicity for Fairsea made it tourism. It was a time of some The other name synonymous evident that P&O were confusion. The lament of P&O’s with Pacific cruising is P&O attempting to establish a publicity officer, Bill Olsen, was Fairstar. The ship’s first different image for its Pacific that while “aeroplane people had appearance in Australia was as venture, with the intention of coined ‘jet set’ to glamourise part of Sitmar’s (Societa Italiana attracting a different clientele, by flying, the boat people hadn’t Marittimi S.p.A) contract to ship shedding the funship tag, “as this THE JOURNAL OF TOURISM STUDIES Vol. 7, No. 2, DEC. '96 7
  7. 7. was now seen as a negative Klugman, 1981). The Australian “one is free to wander through the image” (Traveltrade, 1996). islands, Lord Howe and Norfolk, native villages”, comforted by the generally part of BP’s Vanuatu fact that the “picturesque Destinations and diversions run, occasionally developed an simplicity of the natives is not yet importance of their own on the destroyed by influence of Whatever unusual delights were company’s “conducted tours” civilisation.” (Picturesque Travel, promised excursionists by their schedule (Buckley & Klugman, 1911). By the late 1920s a new advertising, the main aims of the 1981). publication - The BP Magazine - early Burns Philp vessels were to was exploiting the myth of the load/unload cargo and to deliver As the number of cruises South Seas for all it was worth. mail. The presence of passengers increased, it became increasingly Full page advertisements for the was profitable but incidental to evident that the arrival of the company’s cruises spoke of the the real purpose. The astonishing ship in port was regarded as an “Wonder Isles” and “The (by today’s standards) number of entertainment at least as much Enchantment” of the Pacific and Pacific Island ports visited by BP by residents as by passengers. invoked the writings of Tennyson ships in the first decades of this “Round trippers”, the term and Robert Louis Stevenson (BP century, illustrates the extent of distinguishing excursionists from Magazine, 1928, 1929, 1930). the company’s copra depots the r esident expatriates who rather than its desire to provide moved between the various The entry of P&O into the Pacific, variety for passengers. The colonies and metropolitan a five night cruise with only one “capital shooting and fishing” countries, were welcomed by the p ort of call - Norfolk Island - advertised in connection with latter (though these were often appears in retrospect tentative, BP’s second cruise to Port few) in every port of call. The as though the well-established Morseby required no real passengers provided fresh faces company was merely testing the organisational effort on the part in small European outposts of market, and away from of the company. For some years, empire and the chance to catch Melanesia, the main area of however, the very novelty of this up on news and gossip from operations of its major regional kind of travel to the Islands was “home”. Often they were competitor, Burns Philp. Norfolk reward enough for many, even if predominantly female groups, Island was an inter esting the promised colourful savages since as early as 1913 BP had destination, its popularity already (Douglas, 1996) were not always targeted school teachers who had proven by BP, and sufficiently far forthcoming, or were only to be both the income and necessary to appear exotic to mainlanders, seen loading copra. But after time to undertake voyages of four but, with its almost exclusively watching the loading of copra at to six weeks. This delighted the European population, free of the perhaps up to 15 ports on one many resident bachelors who chances of mishap still possible cruise, passenger interest may were able to obtain dancing among the less civilised islands to well have waned. partners for the social gatherings the north. With so many more which occurred whenever the passengers to consider than were By the turn of the century BP’s ships were in a port of any size. carried in BP’s ships - 1,166 in all cruising itinerary included, in Indeed, full evening dress was - risk minimisation seemed addition to Papua and New considered absolutely essential in appropriate. With the possible Guinea (then separately the wardrobe of both residents exception of the innovative administered), Vanuatu (then the and excursionists, regardless of itineraries of the roistering New Hebrides), Solomon Islands, heat, humidity and health risks. Fairstar, conservatism of this Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Before the programming of nature seems to have influenced Island. In Melanesia regular “visitor attractions” and special P&O’s Pacific Island cruises ever ports of call included, in addition events for cruise passengers since. to the c apital towns, Port became common, soirees such as Moresby, Tulagi and Port Vila, these were eagerly anticipated by The success of the first cruise remote out stations such as Yule all. probably exceeded all expec- Island in Papua and Herbertshoe tations. Enthused by it, the (later Kokopo) in New Britain, In 1911 a second edition of BP’s company despatched its Ugi, Santa Anna, Makira and the lavish tourist public ation, representatives to various parts Santa Cruz group in Solomon Picturesque Travel, added - to of the Pacific to check out port Islands and a plethora of ports in what were still basically cargo facilities and on-shore attractions Vanuatu, including at least four trips - the gloss of promotional for passengers with a view to on Tanna Island and seven on language that helped to define establishing a series of cruise Malakula. Freight contracts Melanesia for many tourists in itineraries for the Austr alian entered into with both Catholic terms anticipating the travel winter. Suva, Fiji, and Noumea, and Protestant missions brochur es of the 1990s. The New Caledonia, the first augmented the itineraries Solomons was made up of “wild pioneered as a tourist port of call considerably (Buckley & islands”, yet at each anchorage by the Union Steamship 8 THE JOURNAL OF TOURISM STUDIES Vol. 7, No. 2, DEC. '96
  8. 8. Company of New Zealand, the wandering aimlessly through vessels introd uced a marked second by the French “Native villages with their quaint change in emphasis in Pacific organisation Messageries surroundings” as one BP cruising. Although even Maritimes, and broached only advertisement had it (B P passenger ships carried mails occasionally by Burns Philp, were M a g a z i n e, September 1929). and some cargo right up to the brought into P&O’s orbit. Something akin to staged days of containerisation in the Despite their declining popularity authenticity was now on display. 1960s, the size of P&O’s with cruise passengers, they have “The real New Guinea of passenger ships meant that they remained immovable from most mountain, jungle, gold and could not have called at many of Pacific Islands cruise itineraries mystery is withheld, perhaps the smaller ports, even if the ever since. P&O also moved mercifully, from the happy company had wanted them to. In deeper into BP territory, adding touris ts”, wrote BP’s any event, P&O, lacking BP’s Port Moresby, Samarai and correspondent from Port close involvement in island Rabaul in Papua New Guinea, Moresby, “...yet truly savage commodity trading, had no need Port Vila in Vanuatu and Tulagi Papua is present on the vast to anchor off every copra shed in in Solomon Islands to its ports. parade ground at Konedobu, the islands. Furthermore, with Within a few months of the where the picked representatives passenger complements up to ten S t r a t h a i r d’s cruise to Norfolk of six tribes present a spectacular times that of many of BP’s ships, Island in December 1932, Burns series of native dancing.” a higher degree of on-shore Philp & C ompany, as P&O’s “Reluctant chiefs” were organisation was required. This agent in Australia, was in the “persuaded” by the native police was most likely to be found at the incongruous position of to face tourist cameras, and at rapidly growing port towns in the promoting the growing cruise Hanuabada, “at the edge of one of South Pacific. Passenger activities of its major competitor the quaint native huts”, grass- priority, therefore, rather than in the region, carrying vivid skirted girls offered to remove cargo priority influenced the poster-style advertisements and their attire and swim for the choice of ports-of-call for P&O. articles on P&O’s port visits in its photographers for “two bob”. The Thus was established the house journal (e.g., BP Magazine, day was made complete by a fundamental South Pacific September 1933). demonstration of fire-making and “cruise circle” - Sydney, Noumea, an outrigger race (BP Magazine, Port Vila, Suva and return - “Australia Visits Papua”, a story September 1933). which, with occasional on the arrival of the Maloja i n augmentations and accretions Port Moresby in early 1933, was The primary purpose of each BP has remained the main typical and provides an early voyage was to deposit stores and framework of regional cruising example of the sort of activities collect cargo, thus ensuring that ever since (Table 2). ashore that cruise passengers the tourists got to see many small had by now come to expect. With and often isolated bays, trading As always, however, the main their considerably larger stations and villages. In the case aim of the round trip people, passenger capacity - M a l o j a , of the Solomons: “There are no especially on cruise s to the while smaller than S t r a t h a i r d townships or settled com- Western Pacific, was to see the still carried more than 650 munities, but a charming series “savage in all his picturesque passengers - the P&O ships could of visits to Barbaric Islands” originality” a promise made at not depend on passengers being (Picturesque Travel, 1921). The least as far back as 1903, when able to entertain themselves by advent of P&O with its larger BP promoted its cruises on the Table 2: Cruise passenger statistics for Pacific ports and their percentage of total tourist arrivals. 1988 % 1989 % 1990 % 1991 % 1992 % 1993 % Fiji 19,991 9 30,932 11 27,874 9 27,332 10 29,855 10 7,933 3 New Caledonia 42,762 41 33,169 29 42,158 33 35,330 30 49,802 38 38,742 31 Solomon Islands 4,547 30 2,981 23 2,616 23 2,649* 19 4,886 28 2,656 19 Tonga 7,536 25 7,120 23 5,789 20 5,760 19 7,338 22 4,442 13 Vanuatu 50,932 74 41,311 63 41,867 54 37,023 48 59,346 58 43,059 49 Source: South Pacific Regional Tourism Statistics 1993, TCSP, Suva. * In TCSP statistics this figure is given as 26,496 but the figure from the Solomon Islands statistics office is 2,649. The latter figure maintains consistency with trends in cruise shipping to this destination. 1992 was significant because of cruises which remembered the 50th anniversary of the Guadalcanal campaign. NB: These are the only countries of the 14 members of the Tourism Council of the South Pacific (TCSP) which record excursionists as a separate category, a good indication of the country’s significance on cruise schedules. THE JOURNAL OF TOURISM STUDIES Vol. 7, No. 2, DEC. '96 9
  9. 9. 50-passenger Ovalau ( B P unmindful of such money as archives , Scrapbook, shelf 4). the tourist vessels bring into These encounters, even if not all the c ountry...But there is that frequently experienced, were another and less agreeable side repeatedly stressed by the to the question, for there has promotional literature. On one been a noticeable increase of such voyage a traveller, Hugo mendicancy among the native Bernatzik (1935), reported a fight children in the neighbouring among the Solomon Islanders villages as a result of these who had been loading the ship. visits, and a general tendency Initially he thought the shipping among adults as well as company had actually staged a children to ask ridiculously “cannibal fight” for the round trip exorbitant prices for people, since they had been insignificant services...a native expressing disappointment about will demand 4/- for the not seeing any “savages”, but privilege of taking his when the ship’s purser had photograph, and that small waded in to break up the children clamour round skirmish and was knocked down, strangers begging, with Bernatzik realised that the outstretched hands, for incident was too realistic to have sixpences and shillings. In fact been part of such a programme. these villages bid fair to become The tourists were delighted and the homes of a lot of talked of the attack with great professional beggars. It is said that the American film producers caused most Disruption in the host communities was noted harm, but His Excellency has with overpricing and attempts at exploiting the been told that the unthinking tourists proving to be an early legacy of cruising. generosity of tourists from Australia has been partly to blame. The Lieutenant-Governor enthusiasm for the rest of the ventures to suggest that you voyage, convinced that they had should call the attention of at last seen “real wild cannibals”. tourists to the dangers of this Unknowingly, Bernatzik in 1935 thoughtless liberality, and ask was commenting on the type of them to join with the “staged cultural performance” Government, the Missionaries, that was not accorded academic and the older men among the credence until 1961 (Boorstin, natives themselves, in helping cited in MacCannell, 1976). to keep the character of these people unspoiled by such The sudden appearance of the practices as indicated larger P&O vessels with their (Australian Maritime Museum several hundreds of passengers 50018). was regarded as ominous by some observers. In August 1933 Sir Little notice seems to have been Hubert Murray of Papua, taken of Murray’s suggestion. In complained via his secretary to 1934 a party which cruised to the captain of the S t r a t h a i r d , Papua on the P&O ship Mooltan strongly suggesting that tourists claimed that the Papuans were were causing social disruption profiteers. Having found that within the Papuan community, each influx of tourists eagerly and thus becoming an early sought to take their pictures in participant in the continuing full feather dress, the natives debate on the effects of tourism were quick to apply the principles on indigenous cultures. of supply and demand. The price for posing rose quickly from 1/- to ...we appreciate these visits 2/- to 3/- then 5/-. “The indignant very highly, and are not passengers refused to pay this 10 THE JOURNAL OF TOURISM STUDIES Vol. 7, No. 2, DEC. '96
  10. 10. exorbitant price”, reported the day was a disappointment. The Pacific Islands Monthly (August passengers purchased very little 1934) “and boycotted the natives and the caterers lost a until the price returned to the 1/- considerable amount of money level”. because the tourists brought packed lunches ashore in paper In Suva, which had been bags (Douglas, 1996). receiving tourists since the late 19th century, there were Other visits were more diversions enough by the mid- successful. When the Orient Line 1930s. The practice of greeting ship Otranto, the first tourist passenger ships with a brass steamer to do so, called in at band was introduced about this Rabaul on 14 June 1934 with time, organised drives could be over 450 passengers on board, a taken to the hinterland and at local entertainment committee least one hotel - the Grand was quickly convened to organise Pacific - had been built two car trips to local points of scenic decades earlier essentially for interest in the morning and to tourists. Noumea provided, as it prepare a race meeting at the still does, “an outpost of French turf club in the afternoon. Burns culture” in the Pacific, although a Philp organised a native dance critical traveller like Wilfred display and in the evening Burchett, visiting in 1940, dances for expatriates and thought it, despite the claims, “a passengers. Every expatriate who had a car was dragooned into acting as a chauffeur and tour guide for the day. But the The organisation of the on-land visits moved from time was fast approaching when opportunistic encounters to planned activities greater liaison was r equired and diversions. between cruise operators and residents to avoid misunder- standings. Ultimately, many European residents would grow disdainful of the frequency of poor substitute for Paris” cruise visits, and take steps to (Burchett 1941). In Vanuatu and avoid going into town on “boat Solomon Islands onshore days”, lest they be mistaken by e ntertainment was often vendors for passenger s and restricted to watching the loading harassed or overcharged and unloading of cargo and accordingly. having afternoon tea with the plantation manager or mission Destinations and diversions, sisters. In their respective then, fairly well routinised by the capitals, Port Vila and Tulagi, it outbreak of the Pacific War, were was possible to be invited to the little changed at first when Resident Commissioners’ houses cruising resumed in the post-war for tea. In the latter, it may have period. P&O, its attention taken been morning tea with the up largely with the profitable line Frenc h Commissioner and voyages and the migrant trade afternoon tea with the British between Europe and Australia, Commissioner. When the showed little interest in further Oronsay called at Tulagi in developing Pacific Island cruises September 1934, the residents except for those occasionally had erected a temporary bar after offered as a respite by its larger a recent fire at the hotel and had ships. The arrival in this region, arranged for anyone with a small however, of the massive Oriana boat to come and ferry the and C anberra not only passengers around the harbour introduced new concepts of for sightseeing. Lunch was luxury on board, but reawakened prepared by caterers and the interest in ports further east, in trade stores awaited the rush of islands like Tonga and the tourist seeking souvenirs. The Samoas, only intermittently THE JOURNAL OF TOURISM STUDIES Vol. 7, No. 2, DEC. '96 11
  11. 11. visited in the pre-war period by As a result, Fairstar, which had On the other hand, intra- other companies’ ships, such as entered the market in community jealousies on Rotuma those of Matson Lines. For the competition with P&O’s faster resulted in controversy sur- Tongan ports - Nuku’alofa and vessels and greater number of rounding the ship’s first visit in Vava’u - the revival of cruising in ports, added to its own ports of 1985. It was several years before the 1960s, spearheaded by P&O call such seemingly unlikely spots the island was rescheduled. With proved spectacularly successful. as Dravuni, Fiji (1981), “Mystery the retirement of the innovative They became among cruise Island” (Inyeug) and Champagne Nappa, and the imminent passengers’ favourite ports, Bay (Espiritu Santo) Vanuatu, retirement of the Fairstar itself, a hosting as many as 30 calls in a (1983), Rotuma, Fiji, (1985), watershed in the history of P&O’s year. In 1975, an outstanding Lifou, New Caledonia (1995) and Pacific cruising may have been year for Tonga, 62,469 visitors Kioa, Fiji, (1995). Several other reached. There is evidence also arrived by sea, the great majority possible destinations, including that the Pacific cruise circle may on cruise ships. Indeed, the the remote Banks Islands, be shrinking back to its original revenue derived from visitors who Vanuatu, were personally M elanesian emphasis. Many spent less than 24 hours in the investigated by Nappa but Fairstar cruises for the 1996-97 kingdom was so impressive, that deemed unsuitable for reasons season go no further east than it may have helped to inhibit the generally to do with navigational Port Vila, and at least one takes development of other tourist difficulties. Some ports were one in three ports of call in Papua facilities, e specially by a offs: after one visit of the Fairstar New Guinea, including Port government whose attitude to to Kioa, P&O decided against Moresby, a town widely regarded tourism development was - and keeping it on their itinerary, in tourism circles as remains - ambivalent (Douglas, fearing that “the ship’s high inappropriate, perhaps even Norman, 1995). Barely had the passenger load might have a unsafe, for holiday visitors. exte nded itineraries become negative impact on the culture popular with passengers and and environment of the island” P&O in the 1990s economically significant to (Weekend Australian, 27-28 May, Islanders, however, than the fuel 1995). Why this possibility had P&O for pleasure is the crisis of the 1970s brought about not occurred earlier is not company’s public persona. In the a diminution of cruise schedules explained. 1990s, however, the British public and a reduction of distances. Of company which is also listed in necessity, conservatism returned The innovations have proved Australia, Japan and the USA is to cruising. extremely popular with the highly diversified, operating in all typical Fairstar passengers, those areas of maritime related Further innovations in Pacific who “seek the magic, idyllic industries, real estate, Island cruise destinations had to Pacific” (Personal communication, construction and services. P&O await the arrival of the Fairstar Luigi Nappa, 9 November 1995), Australia Ltd. controls 179 in the region, and particularly the as the ship’s frequent passenger entities registered in 13 countries enlightened policies of Captain surveys testify, and have grown (P&O, 1994). P&O Holidays, Luigi Nappa, once master of the in favour as older established which incorporates both its cruise vessel and later operations ports such as Suva, Lautoka and oper ations and the widely manager for Sitmar Cruises. Noumea have declined. There promoted environmentally When P&O absorbed Sitmar in seems little doubt also, the Kioa significant resorts like Heron 1988, it absorbed also Nappa’s example notwithstanding, that Island, Cradle Mountain and operational skills and his island communities, especially Silky Oaks Lodge, consistent adventurous approach to cruise those now on the regular runs, award winners in Australian itineraries. Nappa’s background - such as Dravuni, Champagne Bay tourism prod uct design, he was born on the small Italian and “Mystery Island”, benefit contributes less than ten percent island of Procida, “where all the consider ably from the visits. to P&O Australia operations good sailors come from” (Personal Additional to the port fees paid to overall. Internationally P&O communication Luigi Nappa, 9 the respective governments for cruise operations are based in November 1995) - inclined him to landing rights in operational four areas - West Coast USA, search in the Pacific for the sort ports such as Suva and Noumea, Europe, Indonesia and Australia. of “unspoiled island ” he had the company pays between The product is listed with the top experienced as a child in the $A50,000 and $A60,000 annually three in the cruise industry along Mediterranean, still, however, to each of the communities with Carnival and Royal constrained by the necessity of responsible for the “unspoiled Caribbean in terms of capacity, finding islands within the locations” and, although there are investment and ships on order. established cruise circle and by relatively few inducements to The launching of the new Oriana the limitations imposed by the spend, passengers manage to (1,975 berths) in 1995 was in trend towards cruises of shorter spend $A10 to $A15 per head keeping with the industry shift to duration. within their few hours ashore. “mega-vessels” with an average 12 THE JOURNAL OF TOURISM STUDIES Vol. 7, No. 2, DEC. '96
  12. 12. capacity of nearly 2, 000, the References smaller vessels of about 650 Australian Tourism Commission. (1994). Cruising Down Under. capacity having proven Woolloomooloo: Australian Tourism Commission. considerably less cost effective Bernatzik, H. (1935). Sudsee: Travels in the South Seas. London: than anticipated. P&O Princess Constable has a vessel on order for delivery Blamey, T. E. (1991). The worldwide cruise industry and potential in 1997 with a total capacity of cruise operations in the South Pacific. Sydney: Pacific Asia 3,000. The South Pacific as a Travel Association. destination, however, attracts The BP Magazine (1928). only 2.2 per cent of the world’s The BP Magazine (1929). biggest and most lucrative cruise The BP Magazine (1930). market, North America (Peisley, The Bulletin, 6 August 1977. 1995), and Australia’s own cruise Britton, S., & Clarke, W. C. (Eds.) (1987). Ambiguous alternatives: passenger generating capacity Tourism in small developing countries. Suva: University of the has remained consistently low South Pacific. and very specific in its product Buckley, K., & Klugman, K. (1981). The history of Burns Philp: The requirement as other operators Australian company in the South Pacific. Sydney: Burns Philp (for example Cunard and Charter & Co. Ltd. Travel Company (CTC)) have Burchett, W. G. (1941). Pacific treasure island, New Caledonia. discovered. Until this market can Melbourne: F. W. Cheshire Pty. Ltd. be substantially increased it is Commonwealth Department of Tourism. (1994). Towards a national most unlikely that a ship cruise shipping strategy. Tourism Discussion Paper No. 2. significantly different to the Canberra: Commonwealth Department of Tourism. Fairstar product will be de Burlo, C. (1989). Islanders, soldiers and tourists: The war and the permanently based in Australia shaping of tourism in Melanesia. In G. M. White & L. with prospects of ongoing success. Lindstrom (Eds.), The Pacific theater: Island representations of World War II (pp. 299-325). Honolulu: Center for Pacific Islands Studies. Douglas, N. (1996). They came for savages: 100 years of tourism in Melanesia. Lismore: Southern Cross University Press. Douglas, Ngaire, & Douglas, Norman (1996). Cruising the South Pacific Islands. SIGNALS, The Magazine of the Australian Maritime Museum, 34. Douglas, Norman (1995). Distinctive Tonga maintains its traditions. PACIFIC Magazine, 20(4), 65-67 Hall, C. M., & Page, S. (Eds.) (1996). Tourism in the South Pacific: Issues and cases. London: International Thomson Business Press. Howarth, D., & Howarth, S. (1986). The story of P&O, the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company. London: George Weidenfeld & Nicolson Lawton, L. J., & Butler, R. (1987). Cruise ship industry - patterns in the Caribbean 1880-1986. Tourism Management, December, 329-343 MacCannell, D. (1976). The tourist: A new theory of the leisure class. New York, Schocken Books. Milne, S. (1991). Tourism development in South Pacific microstates. Annals of Tourism Research, 18(3), 508-511. Pacific Islands Monthly (October, 1933). Pacific Islands Monthly (January, 1932). Port Moresby delights Malolo tourists. Pacific Islands Monthly (August, 1934). Pacific Islands Monthly (February, 1960). Huge increase in ship travel predicted, p. 135. Pacific Islands Monthly (May, 1975). Princess with a new dimension, p. 61. Peisley, T. (1992). The world cruise ship industry in the 1990s. The Economist Intelligence Unit, Special report No. 2104, London. Peisley, T. (1995). The cruise ship industry to the 21st century. EIU Travel and Tourism Analyst No. 2, 4-25. Plowman, P. (1992). From emigrant ships to luxury liners. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press. THE JOURNAL OF TOURISM STUDIES Vol. 7, No. 2, DEC. '96 13
  13. 13. P&O archives, Australian National Maritime Museum, Series ANM 50018, item no. 129 box no. 8. Letter on behalf of Sir Hubert Murray to the captain of the Strathaird dated 29 July 1933. P&O Australia. (1994). Annual report and accounts 1994. Sydney: P&O Australia. P&O Holidays. (1994). Personnel policy: Short history of P&O. Sitmar and Princess Cruises. Sydney: P&O Australia. P&O Cruises. (1986). When Oriana leaves... Sydney: P&O Australia. Ranck, S. (1984). Plans and projections for tourism in Papua New Guinea: Who is being served? Contemporary issues in Australian Tourism, 19th Conference of the Institute of Australian Geographers (pp. 60-66). Sydney: Department of Geography. Ranck, S. (1987). Problems of image in Papua New Guinea tourism. In J. Millet (Ed.), The role of tourism in development. (pp. 30- 38). Waigani: Institute of National Affairs. Robson, R. W. (1950). A brief guide for tourists. Pacific Islands Yearbook, 6th edition (p.26). Sydney: Pacific Publications. Sofield, T. H. B. (1993). Indigenous tourism development. Annals of Tourism Research, 20, 729-750 Taylor, G. (1964). Bird of the islands. Melbourne: . Towner, J. (1988). Approaches to tourism history , Annals of Tourism Research, 15, 47-62 Traveltrade, 4 September 1996, p.9. Weekend Australian, 27-28 May, 1995. Wilkinson, B. A., & Willson, R. K. (1981). The main line fleet of Burns Philp. Canberra: Nautical Association of Australia. 14 THE JOURNAL OF TOURISM STUDIES Vol. 7, No. 2, DEC. '96