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The NSW port of Eden could soon be ready to welcome cruise ships of all sizes

A proposal to boost capacity to accommodate even the world’s largest vessels is now open for community consultation.

Eden is preparing to welcome cruise ships of all sizes.

The Port Authority of NSW has submitted plans with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) to further extend the capacity of the Eden Breakwater Wharf to allow cruise ships of any size to dock in the south-coast town.

Now open for public consultation, the proposal advocates for an additional mooring dolphin to be installed which will allow ships up to 370 metres in length to dock alongside and to be able to stay overnight in port.

An extended fixed passenger walkway alongside would also be installed to improve movement for larger ships with higher passenger numbers.

This extension would, in theory, allow even the world’s largest cruise ships to visit, should they ever be deployed to Australia, including Royal Caribbean's upcoming behemoth, Icon of the Seas, which measures in at 365 metres.

However, the proposal will require any cruise ships staying overnight to have all passengers back onboard by 10pm, as the wharf closes at this time.

Holland America Line's MS Noordam tied up in Eden.

Eden carried out a $44 million wharf extension project in 2018 in an effort to appeal to the ever-growing cruise ships sailing in Australian waters, opening its 325m berth in August 2019 which allows ships carrying up to 3,000 passengers to dock alongside.

This initial extension unlocked an estimated $48.4 million in economic activity for local businesses in Eden and created up to 80 new jobs in tourism, hospitality and associated port operations.

The new proposal also calls for the current annual cap of 60 cruise ship visits to be abolished, allowing unrestricted 365-day access to Eden, however it’s unclear whether the port would ever seek to allow more than one ship per day, with one docked alongside Snug Cove and another tendering passengers in from anchor in Twofold Bay.

Eden has been enjoying considerable popularity over the past decade, with more international cruise lines eager to visit the picturesque town on NSW’s Sapphire Coast.

In early 2020, Norwegian Jewel became the first cruise ship to visit after the devastating Black Summer bushfires, providing a crucial financial boost to local businesses.

Norwegian Jewel provided a crucial financial lifeline to Eden after the Black Summer fires.

After a maiden visit by Norwegian Spirit in January this year, Eden is now preparing to welcome Disney Cruise Line, Crystal Cruises’ revitalised Crystal Symphony and Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas for the first time this coming summer, with Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Lady booked in for January 2025.

Port Authority of NSW Head of Regional Ports, Peter Ernst, said the proposed modifications were about making sure Eden is ready to welcome more cruise passengers in the future.

“Port Authority of NSW has been investing in infrastructure that supports Eden to capitalise on the growing cruise tourism market which in 2022/23 saw over 50,000 passengers visit the region injecting over $13.7 million into the local economy,” Ernst said.

“The proposed modifications to the Eden Breakwater Wharf Extension will also provide the opportunity for more than the current cap of 60 cruise ships in each year, and potentially overnight berthing - increasing the opportunity for visitors to explore and experience the beautiful Sapphire Coast and beyond.”

Public submissions on the proposal close on 24 October 2023.

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Written by: Matt Lennon
Published: 28 September 2023

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