A town of smiles as first ship berths| Photos, videos

Eden is getting a reputation for the warmth of its welcome for cruise ship passengers but if it were possible there were even broader smiles on Sunday morning, September 15 as the first ship berthed at the new wharf extension.

It was 7am as the P&O cruise ship Pacific Explorer came into view as she turned to slowly come alongside.

The great hull dwarfed everything and everyone as she drew up while tugs busied around her picking up the ropes, making fast lines while in the background were the cheers from onlookers and numerous Cruise Eden volunteers.

Debra Meers of Cruise Eden called it an amazing culmination of a journey of 15 years.

This is the first ship and there will be another 21 and we're expecting the numbers to grow and grow.

Philip Holliday, COO Port Authority of NSW

Member for Eden-Monaro Dr Mike Kelly said it was a dream come true.

Dr Kelly gave the first pledge of $10m for the wharf development from the federal government in June 2013 and praised Cruise Eden for its role.

He said the $12.5m he had pledged at the last election for on shore development if Labor had come to power would be back on the table at the next election along with plans to us the wharf commercially for "Navy overflow".

On arrival the captain of the Pacific Explorer Roger Bilton exchanged commemorative plaques with Philip Holliday chief operating officer of the Port Authority of NSW.

Mr Holliday said it was a really special day.

"This is the first ship and there will be another 21 and we're expecting the numbers to grow and grow," Mr Holliday said.

This brings Eden into the big picture of cruising, a $5bn a year business

Peter Little P & O senior vice president guest experiences.

Captain Bilton thanked the community of Eden for the wonderful welcome and said there were a number of repeat cruisers who had been to Eden before.

He said that not using tenders was better for the passengers and better for the smooth running of the ship as staff were available for other jobs such as routine maintenance rather than having to drive boats ashore.

Peter Little, senior vice-president guest experience at P&O Cruises Australia, said it gave a great opportunity to deliver experiences ashore for the passengers.

"This brings Eden into the big picture of cruising, a $5bn a year business.

"My thanks to Cruise Eden, the volunteers have always got huge smiles on their faces and congratulations to the local community who have really embraced this - they have really rewritten the textbooks for cruising," Mr Little said.

This is the start of change for the region.

Mayor Kristie McBain

Mayor Kristy McBain said it was fabulous but wouldn't have taken place without the ground swell of the Eden community behind it.

"I think that initially it gives hope that there's change, more jobs, more ships and better and further use of the Port. This is the start of change for the region," Cr McBain said.

Council's general manager Leanne Barnes said it was very exciting to have the benefit of 22 ships visiting over the season.

It's the culmination of a huge amount of work by so many people.

Natalie Godward, cruise development manager Port Authority of NSW

Ms Barnes said that return visits were the real benefit as people got a taste of Eden and then returned to visit later for themselves.

"There has been so much commitment by so many people over such a long time," Ms Barnes said.

Natalie Godward who has run Cruise Eden for the last 5 years, and is now Cruise Development Manager for Port Authority of NSW could barely contain her excitement.

"It just opens up so many opportunities; it's a massive result for the community," Ms Godward said.

"It's the culmination of a huge amount of work by so many people."

This story A town of smiles as first ship berths| Photos, videos first appeared on Magnet.

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