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Suggestion: send Sydney cruises to Wollongong instead

May 3, 2017 Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

Wollongong, about 70 kilometres south of Sydney, has called on international cruise lines to consider its Port Kembla Harbour as a viable turnaround port as berthing opportunities at Sydney Harbour become critically scarce.

Destination Wollongong general manager Mark Sleigh makes a good point: several major world cities, like London, Paris and Rome, have their associated cruise ports quite distant, sometimes more than 100 kilometres away. He says Port Kembla could fill the same role for Sydney.

The closest port to Paris is Le Havre at the mouth of the River Seine, 200 kilometres from the French capital. The journey takes over two hours. The distance between Rome and its port of Civitavecchia is 80 kilometres. Driving between Rome and Civitavecchia takes over an hour and the train journey takes anywhere from 40 minutes (express) to 60–80 minutes (local).

Due to call at Port Kembla, Radiance of the Seas

Unfortunately an express train option is not available between Wollongong and Sydney. The train trip takes 85 minutes – although much of the journey is very picturesque, passing Wollongong’s Northern Beaches and heading through the Royal National Park.

Two Royal Caribbean visits to Port Kembla are confirmed for the 2017/2018 season: Radiance of the Seas in January and Explorer of the Seas in March.

In a media statement disseminated though the Illawarra Mercury newspaper, Sleigh said Port Kembla harbour “boasts all of the primary infrastructure and strong capacity needed to become a strategic alternative to the state’s capital city while Wollongong has already proven itself a memorable and welcoming destination for passengers”.

He said that while Port Kembla Harbour at Wollongong was relatively young in the cruising market, having welcomed its first ship in October 2016, “it is a proven performer already recognised for its solid engagement with visitors and the wealth of attractions on offer in the surrounding regions.

“Making use of the resources at Port Kembla Harbour and Wollongong is a logical step for cruise companies looking for alternative opportunities within the burgeoning marketplace for Australian cruising,” Sleigh said.

“Using Port Kembla Harbour at Wollongong as a turnaround port is not without precedence. You only have to look at major destination cities around the world to understand the validity of this call. Some of the most valued destinations in the world like London, Paris and Rome have their associated cruising ports more than 100km or between one and three hours away.

Wollongong breakwater and lighthouse

“With its array of activities, stunning beaches and casual lifestyle, Wollongong makes a wonderful overnight base for passengers embarking or disembarking cruise ships. It is also close enough to Sydney for easy access for international passengers.”

Destination Wollongong chair Tania Brown said Wollongong had proven appeal as a tourism destination with data showing a 15% growth in overnight visitors last season.

“The NSW Government has set the aspirational target of doubling the overnight visitor economy by 2020 and what better way to achieve that than facilitating growth in a sector otherwise constrained,” she said.

“Wollongong has recorded growth each year for the past 10 years which shows people are learning more about the region and are attracted by the variety of events and activities we offer.

“Port Kembla Harbour has the capacity and capability to accommodate cruise ships and Wollongong has the ability to entertain them, no matter what their ideal activity may be.”

Wollongong City Councillor Leigh Colacino said Port Kembla was an easily accessible port set within an engaging region and of close proximity to Sydney.

“We are able to accept cruise ships right now and we have proven our relationship with passengers is second to none. There is so much opportunity here and we are willing to work with cruise companies to ensure their passengers get to experience the best the east coast of Australia has to offer. The growth of the cruise industry in our region is still on course. We are expecting further continued growth of this exciting new business.”

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. AgentGerko says:

    They tried running a few cruises out of Newcastle using the old Pacific Sun but that didn’t work well so can’t see Port Kembla being an option. Both the train and the drive can be a bit of a grind, and besides, people want to see the Bridge and the Opera House, not the steelworks and ore terminals.

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