Australia is heading to a record cruise season peak in early 2016, with more newcomers and a flotilla of luxury vessels set to boost the swelling ranks of cruise ships visiting Down Under over the coming weeks.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia Chairman Gavin Smith said February and March 2016 would be showstoppers for the local cruise industry as a fresh wave of international ships joined those based in local waters.
Mr Smith said the flotilla of ships visiting Australia over the coming months included some of the world’s most intimate and luxurious vessels – Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa, Silversea Cruises Silver Whisper, Crystal Cruises Crystal Serenity and Seabourn Odyssey – as well as the sophisticated Oceania Marina and the elegant Cunard trio of Queens – Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria.
The coming weeks will also see two smaller ships making their maiden visits to the country – Ponant’s luxurious Le Soleal and Azamara Quest.
Le Soleal is set to make 15 maiden visits to Australian ports from January to March, with her first call coming on January 6 when she visits Macquarie Island in the Pacific Ocean ahead of her maiden Sydney call on February 13.
Azamara Quest will make 16 inaugural visits from late December to February, with her first Australian call occurring on December 28 when she visits Darwin.
“The fact that Australia now attracts such a diverse array of ships, including some of the most impressive vessels afloat, confirms our growing popularity as a cruise destination as well as Australians’ love of cruising,” Mr Smith said.
Mr Smith said the peak of the season would see 27 different ships making an extraordinary 45 calls to Sydney during February, with the wave of activity continuing into March, when 17 ships will make 33 calls to the harbour city in just 30 days.
“Sydney will play host to some of the world’s most exciting ships at both of her dedicated cruise terminals over the coming weeks. From boutique luxury ships to magnificent ocean liners, there will be a constant parade of cruise ships on the harbour,” he said.
Mr Smith said more than one million Australians now take a cruise every year, making the nation the fourth largest passenger source market in the world.
“With such an extensive variety of ships literally on our doorstep every summer, Australians are spoilt for choice when it comes to cruise holidays, so we believe our passenger numbers will continue to surge,” Mr Smith said.
In total, 38 ships from CLIA member cruise lines will sail in Australian waters this summer.