Business leaders are calling on the NSW state government to hold a summit to end Sydney Harbour’s gridlock that led two liners to anchor and disembark passengers on tender.
The plight of passengers aboard Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas and Carnival’s Luminosa, forced to ride at anchor after a cyclone forced them to sail into Sydney, has sparked a fresh debate over how the city solves its popularity as Australia’s number one cruise destination.
Business Sydney, one of the premier business organisations, The Daily Telegraph and tourism groups are banding together to try and persuade the government to tackle Sydney Harbour’s gridlock.
In an exclusive article in Cruise Passenger, the group calls for a summit of all the players to try and come up with a solution to Sydney Harbour’s gridlock.
Like the Pacific Islands
Sydney Business executive director Paul Nicolaou says in an article on Cruise Passenger: “It’s not a good look for our city to see passengers being shuttled ashore in a Pacific Islands style tendering operation.”
He adds: “If it’s not rocket science that cruise devotees want the Sydney experience first and foremost, it’s equally not rocket science that we need to find a Sydney Harbour solution.
“And this is why Business Sydney continues to advocate for shared access at Garden Island during the peak of the main cruise season.”
His call is being backed by The Daily Telegraph, which this week maintained the Luminosa case had “embarrassingly exposed” the city’s dilemma over the growing cruise industry.
“Between now and the end of March, more than 10 cruise ships will have to anchor in Athol Bay because no berth is available.”
“Transport Minister Jo Haylen in October ruled out the NSW Government pursuing using Garden Island to accommodate cruise ships during peak season, due to the presence of the navy.”
A third terminal for Sydney Harbour has been mooted for years. But the best alternatives, Garden Island and Port Botany, are being rejected for political and military reasons.
The Navy has consistently ruled out sharing Garden Island, even though it has done so in the past with Cunard’s Queen Mary II the last ship to use the facility. Port Botany was rejected after a residents’ campaign, and the now Labor state government is unlikely to force the issue in heartland constituencies.
NSW Ports is pragmatic. After years of pursuing Garden Island as the obvious option, it is now suggesting locally homeported vessels sailing out of Wollongong, while those with largely international guests get the Overseas Passenger Terminal and those Opera House and Harbour Bridge views so desired by American and European guests.
However, Port Kembla would require infrastructure spending and transport improvements.
The outlook doesn’t appear hopeful. Transport Minister Jo Haylen says NSW Ports are looking into solutions. Canberra is looking the other way, and the Navy is battening down the hatches to defend a naval base at Garden Island with some of the best and most expensive views in the world.