Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Down Under overview: Cruise growing by leaps and bounds


Down Under overview: Cruise growing by leaps and bounds

By Donna Tunney
InsightThe cruise industry in Sydney is in an extraordinary growth phase, and it doesn’t look like it will slow down, according to Chris White, chairman of Cruise Down Under, the cruise marketing organization representing the Pacific region’s national and state tourism agencies, regional ports, shipping agents and cruise operators.

In his recent year-end report, White said there were 214 ship visits to Sydney in 2011, up from 150 in 2010; that represents a 43% increase.

For the 2012-13 season, 264 ship visits have already been booked.
Sydney’s harbor is the only one in Australia with two dedicated cruise passenger terminals, he noted.

This winter, several ships will make their maiden visits to Sydney, including Costa Cruises’ Costa Deliziosa, Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas, Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Century, Holland America Line’s Zaandam and Princess Cruises’ Sea Princess.

February will be the high point of the cruise season, said White, with a new record of 33 ship visits, up from 27 for February 2011. Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth is one of the ships that will call at Sydney next month.

The Sydney Ports Corp., which develops and maintains the city’s facilities, is taking steps to improve the services and infrastructure necessary to sustain the city’s growth in cruise shipping. It is, among other initiatives, planning a significant upgrade at Sydney harbor’s Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay during the next couple of years, said White. And it will begin work soon on a $57 million terminal at White Bay, which is part of Sydney harbor where a temporary dock has been operating.

Meanwhile, said White, other developments are springing up in the Pacific region. The Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority, for example, has set its sights on luring more cruise ships by 2013. About 100 ships called in Papua New Guinea in 2010. Numbers for 2011 were not yet available.

“Papua New Guinea, the world’s truly last frontier, is waiting, beckoning to be explored and experienced. Every step in this uniquely diverse country of 800 different languages, tribes and peoples is an experience on its own,” said White.

A cruise port and terminal is located at Port Moresby, on the Gulf of Papua. Tourism officials are working to raise awareness of the destination with additional marketing projects and by attending major trade shows, such as Cruise Shipping Asia.

On the shore excursion front, Cruise Down Under recently announced a new product that might be an eye-opener to cruise passengers who visit Tasmania.

It’s a guided tour of the Coal Mines Historic Site, a former convict site, near Port Arthur.

“Located in a now peaceful bush landscape about 30 minutes’ drive from Port Arthur, the Coal Mines is a little known element of the great experiment in crime and punishment on which the Australian nation was founded,” said White.

Participants will explore the ruins of houses, barracks, offices and the underground cells of those who once lived and worked at the Coal Mines, a place where the “worst of the worst” convicts were sent for punishment.