Some of Royal Caribbean’s 2014/15 voyages will be “sub optimal” as the squeeze at Circular Quay in Sydney becomes ever more acute.
The cruise line admitted some itineraries next summer were not ideal but unavoidable given the limited berthing slots available at the Overseas Passenger Terminal.
Royal Caribbean flagged to Travel Today last November that 2014/15 could throw up challenges and possibly hamper growth due to rising demand for berths at the OPT.
With no solution in sight at Garden Island, the best hope of expanding capacity in Sydney in any meaningful way rests at Botany Bay, Royal Caribbean commercial director Adam Armstrong said.
The cruise line has long argued that it is the only viable solution to address the shortage of berths in Sydney.
“We are not looking for the Taj Mahal of cruise terminals,” Armstrong said, explaining that tented structures are used effectively at several ports around the world, including Rome and Dubai.
Efforts will continue with the owners of the container terminals at Botany Bay with 2015/16 the earliest any passenger facilities will materialise.
“Some itineraries are sub optimal for 2014/15 and we are now planning 2015/16, and that’s when it could get interesting,” Armstrong said.
The 15/16 Australian season must be decided by the end of the year with the program launched in March or April.
Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean said sales for the imminent cruise season are ahead of last year with yields unchanged.
“When you look at the extra capacity that’s in the market, that’s pretty reasonable,” Armstrong said.
Sales of European cruises have also outperformed expectations with Royal Caribbean sending around 20,000 Australian passengers on its ships this northern hemisphere summer.
Celebrity’s European cruises have done particularly well locally, Armstrong said, boosted by the presence of Celebrity Solstice in Australian waters last season.
Solstice will return this year and again for its third season in 2014/15 when it will be joined by Celebrity Century. A second Celebrity vessel will enable the cruise line to “broaden our range of cruises and become more relevant to more people”, Armstrong said.