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SUVA, Fiji (Oceania Flash, Jan. 3) – Sydney-based P&O's "Pacific Star" cruise liner has received this weekend a New Year's Eve, red carpet welcome in New Caledonia's capital Nouméa for what was its inaugural call in the French Pacific territory.

Passengers and crew were Saturday welcomed on the main wharf by a host of tourism professionals and entertainers, who sang and danced and formed an arch of balloons and flowers to greet the new ship on its first call.

Visitors also received boxes of chocolates, courtesy of Nouméa's and the Southern Province's tourism offices.

Pacific Star skipper Captain Graham Goodway also received a plaque from Nouméa Harbour Master Edmond Martin.

The luxury liner has a capacity of some 1,400 passengers and 600 crew.

The introduction of the Pacific Star on this Melanesian tour comes as another P&O liner, the Pacific Sky, prepares to fade out of the South Pacific seas, where it has kept a triangular route among New Caledonia, Fiji, Vanuatu, with a final withdrawal scheduled by the end of the 2006 first quarter.

The 46,000-tonne, 240-meter ship, has been sold to a Spanish tour operator, Pullmantur Cruises, for an undisclosed amount, industry sources said a few weeks ago.

Under its new ownership, it is not known as yet where the Pacific Sky is destined to operate.

January 4, 2006

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