The debate over how many ships can use Sydney harbour boiled over this week, with Royal Caribbean announcing Voyager of the Seas – one of Australia’s favourite ships – would not return and Radiance of the Seas’ spending most of her time in Melbourne.
The result will be a loss of as much as $32 million to the Australian economy because 65,000 passengers would not be sailing on our waters.
“We’ve been talking about one day Sydney will be full. The day has come,” said Mr Armstrong.
Cruise Passenger’s Editor-in-chief Peter Lynch went on 2UE to reveal that the cruise industry had now banded together and told the State and Federal governments that they would not take part in a NSW Ports plan to have two ships dock at the Overseas Passenger Terminal each day, claiming it risked passenger safety and could inconvenience thousands.
Steve Odell, Senior Vice President and Managing Director Asia Pacific of Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings and chair of Cruise Lines International Australasia said: “Resolving the lack of berthing space in Sydney Harbour is an absolute priority to help grow and future proof cruise tourism in Australia.
“Double stacking has been mooted as an option, however the operational challenges associated with the technique, as well as the likely impacts on the guest experience in relation to embark and debark delays make it an unviable long term solution moving forward.”
Some of Cruise Passenger’s Facebook readers have suggested ships homeport out of places like Adelaide or Perth, while others say that the NSW State Government should be doing more to rectify a major tourism problem.
Emrys Evony said, “It’s my opinion that the State Government needs to get this problem sorted or Sydney will lose another big money earner (traveller’s dollars from cruising companies) to Brisbane and Melbourne. Come on guys wake up we have a beautiful city and harbour why not ask the cruise companies they may assist with some funding they have done it in other countries don’t let this growing industry bypass our great city.”
Other readers like Kellie Wilson said, “We never have cruises that leave from Darwin, and the ships would do well especially with the Asian market during the dry season when the ships go back to the us or Canada. And if you live in Darwin and want to do cruising (like us) you have to fly to Sydney or to another big city to get onto the ship and if the ship happens to come to Darwin and you want to get on it there you still have to pay full price.”
Cruise Passenger asked the NSW Ports Minister for comment but has yet to receive a response.
Margy Osmond, the chief executive from the Tourism & Transport Forum said that government needs to address the lack of cruise infrastructure in Sydney as ships are bypassing to other ports.
“Demand for ocean cruising is surging internationally and Australia is currently positioned as one of the world’s fastest growing cruise markets, with passenger numbers increasing by 20 per cent on average each year for the past 12 years.
“However, our largest cruise gateway, Sydney, is at peak capacity and with the world’s top cruise companies now diverting their premier liners, the time for action to recover lost cruise business, prevent further withdrawals and ensure that growth can occur, is now.
“If Sydney is not available as a destination for large cruise liners, the whole country will miss out. We are now on the verge of a cruise crisis.”
TTF have been lobbying the State and Federal Government to develop a fair sharing arrangement with the Royal Australian Navy to allow cruise ships to access infrastructure at Garden Island.
Saturday’s Daily Telegraph reports quotes NSW Ports Minister Melinda Pavey as saying the solution to Sydney’s cruise crisis is sorting out how much access to the naval base at Garden Island the industry has.
“It is clear that all industry and government need clarity on what can be done to deliver additional berth capacity in Sydney,” a spokesman for her said.
“That will involve discussions with the federal government to use Garden Island and share facilitates with navy.”
Federal Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne believes sharing Garden Island would be a “backward step”, according to the Daily Telegraph.