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Cruise passengers visiting Sydney during the low season will face some construction work, as the government approves plans to extend the Overseas Passenger Terminal [OPT].

Tthe NSW Government has just approved the $49.4 million upgrade of the OPT due to start in May this year. 

The upgrade will add an extra 60 metres to the 220 metres wharf to handle mass market ships, The Australian reported.

When completed it will have a mezzanine level, an entry foyer and a wraparound deck to make the boarding and disembarkation process easier.

Two of the six OPT restaurants will be removed to make way for extra cruise passenger space. They are the Ocean Room, which will cease trading from 12 April and Wild Fire.

The cruise industry has welcomed news of the extension, with many seeing it as an opportunity to stimulate the sector, which has grown 620 percent in the past decade.

However, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines regional vice president Gavin Smith and Carnival Australia chief executive Ann Sherry have called for a second berth at Garden Island or Port Botany.

“No matter how much money the government spends on Circular Quay there is still only one berth,” Mr Smith explained. “The industry is still working on Garden Island and Port Botany as potential further expansion of cruise industry facilities.”

“As the ships that can access White Bay are modernised they will not be able to fit under the bridge and Sydney will require a second terminal accessible by all ships.”

Ms Sherry added: “It is certainly a step forward to accommodate increasingly larger cruise ships at Circular Quay however the redevelopment of the terminal does not in itself increase Sydney’s capacity.”

“Carnival Australia has long advocated shared access at Garden Island and has worked hard to build a positive and cooperative relationship with the Royal Australian navy.”

Road and Ports Minister Duncan Gay said the OPT will continue to operate throughout construction. The terminal is expected to be complete by September this year.