Wollongong has announced Port Kembla will be an embarkation port in 2021 – and could be an alternative turn-around port for Sydney.

Cruise Wollongong Chair Cr Leigh Colacino broke the news on Thursday morning when he revealed Norwegian Jewel will sail from Port Kembla on January 13, 2021.

With much criticism surrounding the capacity issues at the Overseas Passenger Terminal in Sydney Harbour, Destination NSW has been searching for a new cruise strategy for the state, so as to not miss out on the growing cruise market.

Brisbane is due to open a new terminal next year, and Melbourne has already snatched Royal Caribbean and Cunard vessels to add to its homeported fleet.

The NSW South Coast town of Eden launches an updated cruise wharf this weekend.

Cr Colacino said a new report by Destination Wollongong ranks Port Kembla as one of the four major ports for cruise ships in the state and that standing was really important for the future of cruise ship visits to the city and region.

Wollongong Harbour
Wollongong Harbour

“Being a deep water Port with easy access to a large multi-purpose berth, Port Kembla has the potential to become Sydney’s alternative turn around berth when Overseas Passenger Terminal is unavailable,” Cr Colacino said.

Cr Colacino said the industry also injected $1.6 billion into NSW and it was important the state comes together to ensure this business isn’t lost. Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia are all investing heavily in new cruise infrastructure to facilitate turnaround visits. Cr Colacino believes it is vital NSW identifies and promotes other ports which can play a role in continuing to grow the important industry that injects significant visitor dollars into the economy.

He said Wollongong offers a great new Cruise destination because it already has much of the infrastructure and planning required to host turn-arounds over spring and summer.

Cr Leigh Colacino
Cruise Wollongong Chair, Cr Leigh Colacino

Cr Colacino says that now an infrastructure project for Garden Island is no longer an option as an alternative for the already full Sydney ports, he is very pleased that Wollongong could step up as the next option.

“This brings with it not only great economic benefit but also international awareness of Wollongong as a genuine leisure destination bringing visitation for many years to come”.

“Turnaround visits are a different proposition to what we have previously experienced with guests boarding the ship expected to fill our hotels, restaurants and cafes for days before the ship departs,” Cr Colacino said.

Destination NSW also announced this morning a “Cruise Sydney & NSW along the Blue Highway” program, which they maintained had identified several new potential ports of call.

After extensive work including hydrographic surveys and consultation with regions, Trial Bay, Bateman’s Bay, Yamba, Coffs Harbour and Kiama are included as “minor ports” alongside larger cruise destinations of Sydney, Newcastle, Eden and now Port Kembla.

The NSW Government has hailed the move with the State’s Minister for Transport and Roads, The Hon. Andrew Constance saying “The NSW Government is committed to providing world class facilities to support our growing cruise industry”.

That said, it’s likely the first cruise out of Wollongong, on January 13, 2021 is going to be met with much excitement from the local community.

The Norwegian Jewel has set an 11-day cruise itinerary, travelling to New Zealand. Embarking from Port Kembla, the journey will see the ship visit Dunedin, Lyttelton, Marlborough, Picton, Wellington, Napier, Gisborne, and Bay of Islands before finishing in Auckland.