Sydney’s lack of docking space for major cruise ships is threatening Australia’s cruise industry yet again, with one of the country’s biggest cruise companies giving it the flick.
The country’s second biggest cruise company Royal Caribbean Cruises has made the decision to stop sending its mammoth Voyager of the Seas to Australia because Sydney doesn’t have the capacity for another ship.
A number of cruise companies are looking at bypassing Sydney in favour of overseas ports, and Melbourne and Brisbane – which are starting to gain more cruise kudos than Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal.
And according to News Corp, Royal Caribbean’s decision marks the first time in 10 years a major cruise operator has cut a service in Australia.
We’ve been talking about one day Sydney will be full. That day has come,” Managing Director Adam Armstrong told News Corp.
“Sydney will lose 65,000 guests a year from Voyager of the Seas and around $32 million in passenger spend.”
“It’s extremely frustrating. There is no berthing solution in Sydney,” Armstrong added, per News Corp.
“In the interim, Singapore, Hong Kong and China have all built world-class terminals. Brisbane will have a solution before Sydney does.”
And while Radiance of the Seas isn’t bypassing Sydney altogether in the 2018/19 season, due to port constraints, it was necessary for us to look elsewhere during the peak summer months. As a result, she will offer one cruise from Melbourne and three from Auckland.
Carnival Australia is also running into issues with Sydney’s lack of docking space, with Carnival Legend now offering 10 voyages from Melbourne in 2018 that could have been in Sydney.
Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth will be based in Australia for a record two months between February and April 2019, but while the company did have a preference for Sydney, it was not the most viable option given there were few available berths in Sydney, so now for the first time, three of its cruises will leave from Melbourne.
“The NSW market is our biggest market, and we would like more space in Sydney,” Cunard’s Vice President of International Development, David Rousham, told trade media recently.
“Ultimately there’s real problems in Sydney, for example we don’t fit under the bridge. But there’s no easy answer to the problem. We’re one of many ships with the same problem.”
Carnival Australia’s Executive Chairman Ann Sherry also told News Corp, “We are finding ourselves increasingly basing ships in other cities.
“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.”
As for the rest of Royal Caribbean’s 2018/19 itinerary, for which bookings open 16 May 2017, it will bring three mega cruise ships to Aussie shores.
Australia’s newest, largest and most modern cruise ship, Ovation of the Seas, will return for her third and longest season yet based down under.
“This deployment change (for Voyager of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas) makes possible the early return of Ovation of the Seas to her summer home in Sydney, where she will operate her longest ever Australia season,” said Armstrong.
The 2018/19 season will kick off with the arrival of Radiance of the Seas to Sydney on 6 October 2018. Explorer of the Seas will return down under on 27 October 2018 and Ovation of the Seas on 2 November 2018.
Together, the three ships will offer 61 sailings, ranging from three to 23-nights, sailing to nine different countries including Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, French Polynesia, Malaysia, New Caledonia, Singapore, the USA and Vanuatu.
“We expect that local demand for Royal Caribbean’s innovative and ground breaking ships will see a fourth Royal Caribbean ship return to Australian shores in 2019/20. Our determination to remain the number one cruise line in this region is undiminished,” Armstrong concluded.