The Federal Government’s outdated definition of a cruise ship is limiting our choices when it comes to cruises and destinations, according to an industry expert.
The government currently defines a cruise ship as a vessel that weighs more than 5,000 tonnes, carries more than 100 passengers and travels at least 15 knots.
By this definition 80 percent of the world’s small and expedition ships are exempt from exploring our coastal region. These ships include; SeaDream I and II – both only 4,250 tonnes; Orion ships – all weighing under 4,000 tonnes; and Le Ponant – she only weighs 1,490 tonnes and carries 64 passengers.
Industry frontrunner and founder and former managing director of Orion Expeditions, Sarina Bratton said the policy is deterring smaller ships from our waters and limiting our cruising choices.
She explained that a number of unique and remote Australian destinations are inaccessible via large ships. If the current restrictions weren’t in place, this could be filled by the luxury expedition segment.
Among those destinations are Lord Howe Island, Macquarie Island and the Great Barrier Reef.
Cairns, Darwin and Broome also have untapped potential and can be turnaround destinations for expeditions to Papua New Guinea, East Timor, West Papua, Indonesia and Micronesia.
Ms Bratton said: “Australia has such incredible potential to be one of the leading expedition and small ship destinations in the World.
“These small ships are highly manoeuverable, have shallow drafts and more often than not, are equipped with a fleet of zodiacs for shoreside landings, and yet, in the Barrier Reef for example, if they are over 70 meters in length, they must use the corridors and anchorages assigned to 100,000 tonne vessels carrying 5000 passengers.
“Small and expedition ships do not want to operate the same itineraries as big ships. The small ship model is to take guests where big ships can’t go.”
Would you like to explore remote and regional Australia via a smaller or expedition ship? Let us know if you like things the way they are or if you’d prefer to see a policy change by leaving a comment below.