Australia will welcome an unprecedented number of cruise ships this summer, with more than 40 vessels sailing in local waters - including eight ships making their maiden visits Down Under.
Among the flotilla will be the largest ship to visit Australia – Royal Caribbean’s 167,000-tonne Ovation of the Seas – as well as the youngest and most luxurious ship ever to cruise here, the boutique Seabourn Encore, which will arrive in Australia just two weeks after it is officially named in Singapore.
Detailing the upcoming peak cruise season, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia Commercial Director Brett Jardine said a record 41 ships from CLIA member cruise lines would be based in Australia or visiting local waters between October 1, 2016, and April 30, 2017, compared to 38 ships over the same period last year.
Between them, the ships will make almost 900 calls to ports around Australia over that period – up 10 per cent on last year’s port calls numbers.
With more than half the ships (23) offering return cruises from our shores, Australians will be able to take advantage of almost 400 roundtrip itineraries from local ports, a 20 per cent rise on last summer’s offerings.
Mr Jardine said the record season reflected the continuing surge in Australian cruise passenger numbers as well as the nation’s growing popularity as an international cruise destination. Australia is the fourth largest source market for cruise passengers in the world with official CLIA figures showing more than one million Australians took a cruise in 2015 – a 14.6 per cent increase on the previous year. Australian cruise passenger numbers have grown by almost 20 per cent annually over the past decade
“Anyone wanting evidence of the continuing rapid growth of the cruise industry in Australia just needs to look at the horizon this summer – there is going to be a constant procession of ships visiting our ports, carrying hundreds of thousands of Australians and international tourists on great value and relaxing holidays,” Mr Jardine said.
Five cruise lines will be making their first ever calls to a range of ports from Darwin in the Northern Territory to Burnie in Tasmania, while across the fleets, individual ships will be making close to 70 maiden calls to coastal towns and cities.
“It’s going to be an exciting summer for communities around Australia as they welcome these wonderful ships and share in the $3.6 billion in economic benefits that flow from cruise tourism in Australia annually,” Mr Jardine said.
The start of the cruise season on October 1 coincides with the beginning of the local cruise industry’s first ever Cruise Month promotion, which will see cruise lines offering great deals through cruise specialist travel agents. Highlights of the peak summer period include:
- The first international ship call for the summer season when Celebrity Solstice returns to Sydney on October 8
- The first maiden ship call for the summer season when Holland America Line’s Maasdam debuts in Sydney on October 20
- The inaugural Australian season of the largest Princess ship to sail from Australia this summer, the 3082-guest Emerald Princess, making her first Australian call in Fremantle on November 8, followed by Melbourne on November 13 and Sydney on November 15
- The inaugural visit of the largest ship to visit Australia, Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas, arriving in Fremantle on December 6 to make the first of six maiden calls following her launch earlier this year
- The Australian debut of the ultra-luxury Seabourn Encore arriving in Darwin on January 22 and sailing down the Australian coast to reach Sydney on February 2 and Melbourne on February 4. In all she will make nine maiden Australian calls
- The first Australian visit of the luxury Azamara Journey, arriving in Darwin on February 8, the first of 12 maiden calls
- The debut of the 92,000-tonne Norwegian Star which will make seven maiden Australian calls commencing with Darwin on January 29
- The maiden Australian visit of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises Europa 2 which will debut Down Under with her call to Hobart on December 26, making 13 inaugural calls around the country
- The inaugural visit of Oceania Cruises’ Sirena which will arrive in Sydney on March 6, 2017 and make eight maiden calls to local ports
- A Royal Rendezvous of Cunard’s remastered flagship Queen Mary 2 and her younger sister Queen Elizabeth in Sydney on February 25
- Queen Mary 2’s first ever visit to Tasmania with calls to Port Arthur on February 27 and Hobart on February 28
- Royal Caribbean’s first call to Wollongong with a visit by Radiance of the Seas on October 30
- The first ever round trip cruise to South America from Australia - an 84-night cruise by Princess Cruises’ Sea Princess departing Sydney on January 11, 2017.