Cruising in Sydney is booming; the downside is there’s barely any room left in the harbour for ships.
With virtually no free slots remaining at the Overseas Passenger Terminal (OPT) opposite the Opera House before 2017, and with many ships too large to sail under the Harbour Bridge to reach the city’s newest terminal at White Bay, authorities have been forced to consider alternatives such as diverting ships to a yet-to-be-constructed terminal in Botany Bay, just south of Sydney.
“We are running out of capacity and there’s no apparent immediate solution,” Port Authority of New South Wales CEO Grant Gilfillan told Bloomberg. “We can’t ignore it.”
Already diverting ships away from Sydney, the two largest cruise operators Royal Caribbean (RCL) and Carnival Corporation (CCL), which runs P&O Cruises, are at loggerheads over how to best remedy the situation to take advantage of demand for cruising in Australia, which Cruise Lines International Association Australasia revealed jumped 20 percent to a record 1 million in 2014, making it the fastest-growing market in the world.
Royal Caribbean Asia Pacific vice president Gavin Smith says RCL favours using the Port Botany container terminal while a “longer-term solution” is found; but Carnival says it doesn’t want to subject its passengers to the sight of Australia’s second biggest container port alongside the country’s busiest airport, preferring to utilise the naval base at Garden Island, near the Opera House.
“Sailing to or from Sydney Harbour is integral to the passenger experience,” CCL told Bloomberg.
With a Botany Bay development possibly costing as much as $500 million, and just for spillover traffic from Sydney, Gilfillan suggested cruise operators consider travelling into Sydney at night, when there is less congestion.
What do you think of the idea of cruise ships docking in Botany Bay?
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