Sunny Gladstone skies greet the Pacific Pearl
YOU never would have known Gladstone was inundated with water on Thursday as sunny skies greeted hundreds of tourists who poured into the East Shores precinct on Friday as the P&O cruise ship Pacific Pearl arrived.
There were serious concerns earlier in the week that cruise passengers would be unable to set foot on land at the Auckland Pt terminal, however the weather cleared just in time for the New Zealand ship's arrival.
While mother nature turned on the glorious sunshine for our visitors, Feast On East market coordinator Brigitte James was relieved the East Shores markets went ahead, albeit on a smaller scale.
There were 45 stalls instead of the regular 75, although there was still an overwhelming positive response from tourists.
"We couldn't have any stalls on the grass at all," Ms James said.
"A lot of the stalls travel so people couldn't get here because of flooding ... some were stuck at Turkey Beach and Rockhampton."
Despite a smaller market than usual, tourists still roamed the city, with many spotted venturing up Goondoon St, while the East Shores waterpark was very popular with children.
Ms James said the feedback received from people coming off the boat was "absolutely unbelievable."
"We've had people find me out by name because they've been asking who they can give their feedback to," she said.
"They've said they have been on lots of cruises and this is the best welcome they've ever had and these are the best markets.
"It's been really great and positive feedback."
New Zealand tourists Sandra and Russell Hocking from Auckland go on cruises about three times each year and said they were visiting Gladstone for the first time, since an Australian driving holiday in 2000.
"It's a lovely little town," Mrs Hocking said.
The Hockings had no concerns about Cyclone Debbie, but were disappointed the Airlie Beach leg of their trip had to be re-routed to Cairns.
"We knew the cyclone would be over by the time we got here," Mr Hocking said.
The Pacific Pearl is on her final P&O voyage after leaving Auckland on March 27 and will arrive in Singapore on April 11.
After becoming a member of the P&O fleet in 2010, the Pacific Pearl has completed 71 cruises from Auckland and held over 518,000 passengers.
When the Pacific Pearl arrives in Singapore, she'll be handed over to Cruise & Maritime Voyages and undergo a significant refurbishment before being renamed Columbus.
Pacific Pearl is the 10th P&O cruise ship to visit Gladstone Harbour in 12 months.
Gladstone is one of five ports the ship will visit during her voyage.