Carnival Australia has slammed the rejection of cruise lines sharing Garden Island with the Navy, warning it could see international cruise lines abandon Australia altogether.
Chief executive Ann Sherry branded the review a “disappointment” that offered little more than “further reviews and delays”.
“We know that if port facilities in Sydney aren’t right, the whole of Australia suffers,” she argued, stressing that international cruise operators had alternative destinations to visit.
“Singapore and other major world cities have embraced cruising and have built state of the art facilities to make the most of the economic opportunity.”
Sherry remained convinced that the Garden Island solution was the best option for the influx of ships during peak cruise season, blasting the review’s proposal of a facility at Athol Bay.
“A new mooring off Mosman isn’t a solution and is no better than the current situation where international travellers’ first experience of Sydney is a ride to shore in a lifeboat,” she said.
She called for leadership at the highest levels of government to prevent Australia “putting a brake” on the flourishing sector which had grown 44% in 2010/11.
Half a million Australians took cruise holidays in 2011, with the number expected to rise to a million by 2020.
In the short term, she urged government to keep the current “ad hoc” access arrangement to Garden Island in place.
Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines said it was reviewing the report in full to assess its impact.