Royal Caribbean has reiterated its desire to bring ships to Port Botany as the cruise line predicted ever larger vessels will continue to head to Australia – should the infrastructure be provided.
Establishing cruise facilities at Port Botany “remains an ambition”, but will require ongoing discussion and negotiation with stevedore companies, regional vice president Asia Pacific, Gavin Smith, said.
But it remains a “far more likely option” than any solution at Garden Island.
Speaking in Sydney this morning to formally announce the departure of Rhapsody of the Seas and arrival of Explorer of the Seas in 2015, Smith said “anything is possible” should the government respond to the needs of the cruise industry and provide modern facilities.
While Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and Singapore all have new terminals to cater for 5000-guests Oasis class ships, Sydney “has a 1950s-built immigration pier that is struggling to meet the needs of the growing cruise industry”.
Royal Caribbean has been the “most vocal” of the cruise lines in pushing for Port Botany, which could handle Oasis ships, he said.
But with the capacity full almost year-round, “shoehorning the cruise industry” into the port “remains a challenge”.
“But negotiations are ongoing with stevedore companies,” Smith said. “We are passionate about that opportunity and it is probably a more likely opportunity than with our friends the navy [at Garden Island], which are more complicated negotiations because it is federal land.”
Even after a
Smith said it remained an ambition to bring the company’s largest ships to Australia, an ambition shared by Dominic Paul, Royal Caribbean vice president international.
Paul, in Sydney for the launch of the 2015/16 season, said Australia “continues to show long term potential”.
“We’ll continue to invest in the Australian market,” he told media and industry partners at Caf√© Sydney this morning. “Whether that means we’d eventually being an Oasis class ship, I don’t know. There aren’t currently any plans for that but when we first started we didn’t have any plans to bring a Voyager class ship here.”
Smith added that deploying larger ships was “also in the hands of consumer”.
“If the consumer is prepared to pay a quality price for a quality product then anything is possible,” he said.
The 3,840-guest Explorer of the Seas, which will arrive in Australia on November 28 next year to replace Rhapsody, will be the largest ship ever to be deployed to the region.