While the Aussie cruise industry is booming, it’s important not to forget about its flaws, namely the trending topic of Aussie ports and berths.
It’s an issue that’s had a fair amount of media attention in recent months and Regent Seven Seas Cruises President and CEO Jason Montague said in the midst of its growing popularity, we do need to keep an eye on what can be improved.
Speaking to Travel Weekly, Montague said, “There’s no doubt that Australia cruising is hotter than it’s ever been before, for international tourists and for Australians.”
“Looking forward, I think it is important for Australian ports to seek a new balance and plan how best to handle the demand and volume of ships and how best to cater to the potential two million Australian cruisers by 2020, as well as international travellers.
“One thing that my line of work has proven to me over and over again, is that this world is very large and filled with countless unique and beautiful destinations. These destinations compete fiercely on a global scale to attract and cater to cruise travellers and ships of all sizes.
“Australia is enjoying a very positive momentum right now, and investing in and enhancing the infrastructure for cruising will help the country continue to enjoy cruising’s economic benefits into the future.”
In April, the country’s second biggest cruise company Royal Caribbean Cruises made the decision to stop sending its mammoth Voyager of the Seas to Australia because Sydney doesn’t have the capacity for another ship.
Discussion about the state of Aussie ports – in particular Sydney’s – is nothing new, and Travel Weekly has spent some time looking into the issue and getting industry figurehead’s responses on the matter.
In June, we sat down with Norwegian Cruise Line’s Executive Vice President of International Business Development Harry Sommer, who views Sydney’s lack of solutions as a major problem if we are to compete with the rest of the world.
“It’s pretty clear, certainly here in Sydney anyhow, that the most significant barrier to strong future growth and economic performance is poor port infrastructure.”
This was backed up by Tourism & Transport Forum CEO Margy Osmond who also stressed, “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,” she added.
So how do we keep this crisis at bay?
For Carnival Australia Executive Chairman Ann Sherry, Sydney needs to rework it’s harbour.
“We are nearing crunch point where we need to find a way to unblock the stalemate in Sydney Harbour and find a way of sharing the Garden Island facility between Navy and cruising for the benefit of Sydney,” Sherry told News Corp.
Similarly, speaking to The Australian, Viking Cruises Executive Director of Itinerary Development and Nautical and Technical Operations Matt Grimes said, “finding a berth in Sydney was “10 times worse than he expected”.
“It would be great if you could build another couple of berths in Sydney between now and December.”
Amid ongoing debate on the issue, Grimes did add that Sydney’s harbourmaster had been tremendously helpful trying to solve congestion problems.