In the wake of recent suggestions that cruise ships dock at Garden Island and Botany Bay, another option has been floated. Yes, another cruise pun. We can’t help ourselves. Sorry.
Richard Davey, Manager at an agency specialising in premium and luxury cruise, and advocate for the cruise industry on the whole, spoke to Travel Weekly about his views.
Davey participated in the IPART review commissioned by then NSW Premier Mike Baird last year. The review was aimed at investigating ways to maximise the use of “existing facilities” in Sydney.
He asked for the review to investigate ways that we could maximise the use of the existing facilities, and that was my suggestion in response.
In response to the review, Davey put forward the notion of double stacking at the Overseas Passenger Terminal (OPT), a solution which has been rejected already by major cruise lines.
Celebrity Cruises President and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, yesterday said, “None of us are interested in double stacking” as it creates a “terrible experience” for guests.
But Davey disagreed.
“I suggested [in the review] that a cruise line(s) be offered an incentive to trial the [double stacking] concept and that it should involve two ships from the same company.
“Ship 1 does not need to arrive earlier than 6am and Ship 2 does not have to wait until after midnight to leave.
“We have heard many reasons for refusal, but you can be sure the real reason is that the tail is trying to wag the dog in trying to gain access to other facilities.
“When it sinks in that the Navy is not about to vacate Garden Island anytime soon, and that there are reasons why Port Botany won’t work, then perhaps we will see it done.
“As for guest experience, who wants to go to Port Botany? Also, this concept allows for more flexible itinerary planning and therefore can deliver a better guest experience in that regard.”
Davey also told TW that even if ships were permitted to stop at Garden Island, it’d likely still be just one dock available, and that’s just not enough.
Meanwhile, for ships that can still fit under the Harbour Bridge, Davey added there are plenty of possibilities.
“We need to see extra sites reclaimed for their use in order to accommodate overflow e.g. Glebe Island and Barangaroo Central,” he said.
“There is already small ship overflow on numerous days during the peak month of February.
“Currently, overflow is handled by forcing these ships to anchor at Athol Bight near Taronga Zoo. It is a beautiful site to be at anchor.
“However when there are moderate to high winds, tender service must be suspended, and that either affects passengers’ enjoyment of Sydney, and can affect the embarkation and disembarkation operations.
“Large ships face this issue too, but for the smaller ones, this scenario is entirely avoidable.
“Even if cruise ships are permitted at Garden Island, there is likely to be only one dock available.
“In this case, it is likely to be mostly be used by large ships, meaning that the needs of the growing fleet of small ships will still need to be considered West of the bridge.
“If the Navy does not allow cruise ships at Garden Island, then the few small ships we still see at the OPT will also be forced under the bridge.
“I would like to see cruise ships at Garden Island as much as anyone else. However the constant lobbying and beating of drums is inappropriate.
“I believe that we could have seen more cruise ship calls to Garden Island over the last few years already with more to come in the future, had negotiations been handled better and directed in the right way with better understanding between the parties.”