The Port of Eden, on the NSW Far South Coast, has kicked off its biggest ever summer cruise season by welcoming in the maiden arrival of Brilliance of the Seas.

More than 2500 passengers sailed into picturesque Snug Cove on Monday with Port Authority Chief Customer and Commercial Officer, John McKenna saying Eden expects a total of 41 cruise ship visits, nine of which are maiden visits to the port.

“The growth of the Eden cruise market has been steadily increasing year on year since the first cruise ship arrived into Eden in 2005,” McKenna says.

“In the last summer season for 2022/23 we had over 50,000 passengers sail into Eden, and it is likely we will surpass this number of passengers given the increased cruise ship (numbers) expected to visit.

“The diversity of cruise lines we see today is exceptional with Eden fast becoming a popular destination for cruise itineraries,” he says of the port which secured silver in NSW’s 2023 Top Tourism Town Awards.

Brilliance of the Seas arrival at the Port of Eden  was safely guided by tugs.
Brilliance of the Seas in Eden after tugs safely guided it into port. Picture: Port Authority of NSW

“It is also great to see a record number of maiden calls with international cruise lines such as Disney, Viking and Oceania Cruises visiting Eden for the first time this summer bringing thousands of passengers to see, taste and do the very best the Bega Valley and Sapphire Coast has to offer.” 

Cruise Eden Manager Debbie Meers said the town is very excited to be welcoming a record 41 cruise ship visits this season.

“Our volunteer welcome ambassadors were busy yesterday meeting the many passengers that came ashore from Brilliance of the Seas, our first ship of the season. It is certainly going to be a fantastic season for our community,” she says.

McKenna added it was fantastic that Port Authority was onboard Brilliance of the Seas today as part of an age-old maritime tradition to deliver a special plaques and keys exchange ceremony to celebrate her maiden voyage.

“The growth of cruise ship visits into regional areas of NSW is very exciting as more international cruise lines are adding Eden to their itineraries, further cementing NSW as the cruise capital of Australia. 

“The season ahead will be the biggest on record and will potentially inject $18 million into the local Sapphire Coast economy,” McKenna says.

port officials pose for posterity to commemorate ship's arrival.
A plaque is presented to Brilliance of the Seas by port officials and Cruise Eden to commemorate its arrival into Eden for the first time. Picture: Brilliance of the Seas

Record number of port calls scheduled

The 2023/24 season will see 331 cruise calls into NSW ports, up almost 16 per cent from the previous summer, said the Port Authority of NSW.

This will include a record number of maiden calls that will surpass the 2022/23 summer season, with 12 first-time ships set to make their debut in Sydney Harbour.

The NSW Government is further supporting the industry by expanding cruise sailing into Newcastle. Led by Port Authority of NSW, the new agreement with the Port of Newcastle will facilitate the safe transit of cruise ships, create jobs and inject millions of dollars into the Hunter and Central Coast tourism and hospitality sectors over the next decade.

“Our new 10-year licence agreement will see even more cruise liners adding the Hunter to their itineraries, building on the cruise industry success already achieved in Newcastle,” Port Authority of NSW CEO Captain Philip Holliday said at the Sydney summer cruise season launch last week.

“Expanding operations in Newcastle will support a regional tourism boom in the decade ahead.”

The Summer Cruise Season launch also coincided with the launch of Sydney Travel Guide which is now available at both Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal and White Bay Cruise Terminal.

Sydney Travel Guide
(Left to right) NSW Minister for Transport Jo Haylen, CLIA managing director Joel Katz and Port Authority of NSW CEO Phil Holliday with the new Sydney Travel Guide at the launch of the summer cruise season. Picture: Grant Jones