Victoria’s plan to become a major Australian cruise homeport destination has been hit by Portuscale Cruises’ decision to cancel its first season cruising from the state.

This week, the Portuguese cruise line announced it had cancelled 524-passenger M/V Funchal’s one-month stay out of regional city, Geelong.

Arriving in February, she was scheduled to operate four- six- and- eight-day cruises from the city.

Victoria has been trying to go head-to-head with popular cruise ports, Sydney and Brisbane, which currently act as homeports for the majority of cruise ships visiting Australia during the wave seasons.

This year, Portuscale, Princess Cruises and P&O announced they would base ships out of the state’s ports.

However, Princess and P&O ships won’t arrive until the 2015/16-wave season, which left M/V Funchal to kick start Victoria’s homeporting plans.

Her arrival was not only going to allow locals to board a ship direct from their doorsteps. It was also going to attract around 1,500 cruisers, many of which would have flown in from around the country.

Portuscale Cruises Australian brand manager Jeannie Foster told Cruise Passenger the cancellation was due to a short lead in period, having only announced the ship’s arrival in May this year.
She said bookings were coming in slowly and steady.

“There was a very short period of notification to the consumers and trade,” she explained.

Although this visit has been cancelled, Ms Foster said she was sure Portuscale Cruises will visit Australia in the future and could even follow through with making Geelong its homeport.

“[The line was] perfectly happy with Geelong and there was great pick up in terms of sales,” she said.

As for M/V Funchal’s February to March sailings next year, Ms Foster said the line is looking at its options, but is likely to go to Cape Verde Archipelago where the ship will visit four islands out of Portugal during a 12-day cruise.