The 2,200 guests on board arrived in Port Kembla at 8am and were welcomed with a special fly-over by a vintage Catalina flying boat, as well as thousands of excited locals waving the ship in from vantage points along the South Coast.
"We have been working towards our call to Wollongong for quite some time. Guests onboard Radiance of the Seas had a wonderful day exploring the city and local area, making the dedication and hard work that's gone into this project for the past two and a half years all worthwhile," said Adam Armstrong, managing director, Royal Caribbean Australia & New Zealand.
Destination Wollongong General Manager, Mark Sleigh said: "When Councillor Leigh Colacino first approached Royal Caribbean to discuss bringing cruise ships to Wollongong, he promised that the community would look after their guests as well as any destination in the world. I'm delighted that Wollongong more than delivered on that promise, and made the maiden voyage of Radiance of the Seas a day that Wollongong, and indeed our visitors, will never forget!"
Guests were treated to a special "Welcome to Wollongong" marketplace at Lang Park organized by Destination Wollongong, which showcased local produce and products from the region. More than 400 local volunteers were also on hand throughout the day to help guests get the most out of their day in port.
Seven different shore excursions also showcased the region outside of the city, with visits to scenic Bald Hill Lookout, Jamberoo Action Park, Kiama, Shellharbour Village, Symbio Wildlife Park and the tranquil Nan Tien Temple among some of the most popular.
"This was the first of many visits to Wollongong: we have now scheduled four more calls over the next 18 months with the larger 3,800-guest megaliners Voyager of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas. In total, we expect to bring in more than 16,000 visitors and inject more than $2.8 million into the local economy," continued Armstrong.
Radiance of the Seas' single visit is estimated to have injected $385,000 into the local economy in passenger spend alone, with 75% domestic and 25% international guests – from places like the USA, Canada, UK, New Zealand, Germany, China and Taiwan – spending up big in the city and surrounding areas.
"We are very proud to be the first cruise line to bring a ship to Wollongong and this historic milestone marks the beginning of a long-term relationship between Royal Caribbean and the region. We will continue to explore opportunities to utilise the port as an overflow to Sydney Harbour," Armstrong concluded.
Radiance of the Seas departed Wollongong at 5pm last night, making the short journey back to Sydney this morning, concluding a seven-night roundtrip voyage to Melbourne and Hobart.
At 293 metres long, 13 decks high and weighing in at over 90,000 GRT, Radiance of the Seas boasts 25 restaurants and bars, a nine-hole mini golf course, a rock climbing wall, jogging track and fitness centre as well as industry-first self-levelling pool tables. Known as the culinary ship, her main dining room can seat 1,242 guests. She also boasts a theatre that seats 900 as well as a state of the art cinema.
For further information or to book a Royal Caribbean cruise, visit www.royalcaribbean.com.au, phone 1800 754 500 or see your local travel agent.