Carnival Australia, one of our biggest cruise line operators with a growing fleet and a huge following, has added its voice to a growing chorus of concern about Sydney Harbour’s ability to handle the industry’s expansion.
Last week, Cruise Passenger carried an exclusive interview with Royal Caribbean’s president suggesting the line, which has expanded its Australian fleet and brought the newest ship ever to our shores, won’t be participating in double stacking.
NW Ports has been pushing a plan to have two ships dock at the Overseas Passenger Terminal a day in a bid to step up the harbour’s capacity to handle new mega liners.
It would mean the first ship would dock in the early hours and leave at lunchtime, when a second vessel would arrive and leave at dusk.
While it increases capacity, cruise lines complain that passengers will get a shorter stay in Sydney – affecting passenger spend in the city. And Royal Caribbean, which sails some of the world’s biggest ships, fears a problem could quickly escalate, inconveniencing as many as 18,000 passengers in one day.
After Cruise Passenger’s reports, Carnival issues the following statement: “In addition to the risk of losing cruise business to Melbourne and Brisbane, ‘double stacking’ risks making Sydney an unattractive port from the perspective of both local and international cruise passengers.
” Double stacking, where two cruise ships would do separate turnarounds at the Overseas Passenger Terminal on the same day, would involve significant inconvenience for passengers.
“Early morning arrivals would require passengers to be up well before dawn, showered and fed in order to start leaving their ships as early as 5.30am.
“The evening turnaround would see passengers including children and the elderly having to embark late into the night with all passengers effectively losing the first night of their cruise.
“Either way, passengers will see ‘double stacking’ as an awful way to either start or finish a cruise holiday.
“It would also have knock on effects for the tourism sector more widely with cruise ship arrivals and departures out of synch with international flights and potential conflict with Sydney Airport’s curfew for passengers leaving ships at night.
“Cruising is one of the most successful and fastest growing parts of tourism but this proposal has little regard for the cruise passenger and also has little regard for the occupational health and safety of workers who would expected to work double shifts under this proposal.
“This idea is a makeshift solution because the authorities are yet to agree on a plan to support a growing cruise industry that delivers $3 billion to the NSW economy each year and $5 billion nationally.”
The NSW government has promised a new paper on how it will handle the massive expansion of the cruise industry. But there are limited options.
The new White Bay terminal is beyond the bridge – and most new ships won’t be able to fit under the iconic structure.
The Overseas Passenger Terminal, recently refurbished, has limited capacity. And no cruise line wants to disembark or embark new passengers at anchor in the harbour.
Garden Island is occupied by the Australian Navy.
Royal Caribbean’s President Adam Goldstein urged a public/private review of the options at Port Botany.
Carnival’s Ann Sherry is know to be keen to persuade the navy to share Garden Island. At a reception for the Queen Mary 2 last month, she took tea with the fleet commander, Rear Admiral stuart Mayer.
No-one was saying what was discussed as they sipped their Earl Grey and shared scones and jam.