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Cruise ships turn away as Sydney Harbour crisis bites

May 1, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

The inability of Sydney to offer sufficient berth space for cruise ships east of Sydney Harbour Bridge is now having financially painful consequences, after years of warnings by cruise lines and tourism lobby groups.

Royal Caribbean has confirmed that Voyager of the Seas will remain in Singapore and China for a year-round season rather than coming to Australia.

Managing director Adam Armstrong told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph Radiance of the Seas would also no longer stop in Sydney and would head to Melbourne and New Zealand instead.

“We’ve been talking about one day Sydney will be full,” Armstrong told the paper.

“That day has come. Sydney will lose 65,000 guests a year from Voyager of the Seas and around AUD 32 million in passenger spend.”

Armstrong described the situation as “extremely frustrating”. He said Sydney lacked any solution, while Singapore, Hong Kong and China had all built world-class terminals.

Cruise passengers want to come to Sydney. While stops such as Wollongong and Newcastle make pleasing alternatives, neither possesses the international cachet of Sydney.

Carnival Australia is also reported to be switching three of its Queen Elizabeth cruises to Melbourne in 2019 because there are no berths available in Sydney.

The Tourism & Transport Forum warned last week of a “cruise crisis” and urged the NSW and Federal Governments to urgently secure Sydney’s cruise infrastructure or risk losing out on the surge in global demand for ocean cruising. See: Sydney: fix cruise infrastructure or miss the boat

Cruise industry chiefs say the Royal Australian Navy must be made to allow cruise ships to access Sydney’s Garden Island, currently a major naval base, on a share basis or the city and Australia will miss out on a cruise bonanza.

Carnival Australia executive chairman Ann Sherry has called for shared access to Garden Island with the Royal Australian Navy. At present, it’s Navy territory. HMAS Canberra and HMAS Adelaide are currently berthed at Garden Island. Both warships are stuck there, having been stranded for over a month while engineers try to work out problems with their propulsion systems.

Cruising is Australia’s fastest-growing tourism segment. It’s worth USD 5 billion to the NSW economy and supports 20,000 jobs. In 2015-16, the most recent year for which full figures are available, 325 cruise ships visited New South Wales.

Written by Peter Needham

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