cruise terminal sydney harbour

Sydney Harbour to get better Cruise Ship Facilities

A great day for those who cruise in and out of Sydney! I have written before about the problems for the growing number of cruise ships that bring passengers to our beautiful harbour every year.
Today Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that the federal government would guarantee three cruise ships a berth each at Garden Island over the next two cruise seasons.
The problem for Sydney is that currently the only berth is the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay and with many ships such as the Cunard Queens being too large to fit under the Harbour Bridge they have been forced to berth in the Harbour. This means that passengers cannot easily leave the ship but have to travel by tender to the harbour. With a berth at Garden Island passengers can alight in the heart of the city making it much easier and more attractive.
Currently Garden Island is a naval depot and cruise ships such as the Queen Mary II have been allowed to dock on an ad hoc basis.

Where will the cruise ships go in Sydney?

The question of where the cruise ships that are too big to go under the Sydney Harbour Bridge – which will be most of them in the next 20 years – is still being pushed around. The obvious spot is Garden Island, currently home to the Navy, which is where the Cunard Queens have docked in the past. Local residents are not happy at the thought that this may become a permanent occurrence if part of Garden Island becomes an international terminal – but it does seem to be the most obvious spot.
I just came across this news item in a community paper which seems to indicate that there are some serious discussions going on.

How likely is a port upgrade?

An SMH news item on an Access Economics report on the cruise industry reveals that the cruise sector was the standout performer in the tourism market – good news for those of us who love to cruise, and who sell cruises. However it also included comments from Carnival Australia, Australia’s largest cruise shipping company, about the need for governments to commit to port upgrades. With the constant changes in the NSW government it is likely that this is very low on their list of priorities despite the fact that Sydney is an important destination. We recently posted a story on our website about the ‘Oasis of the Seas‘, the largest cruise liner afloat which needed a special port in the Caribbean to be built to accommodate her. There is no way she could fit into the current port facilities – and it seems that by 2020 only 15 per cent of cruise liners will be able to dock west of the harbour!
It will be sad if the many Sydneysiders who would like to cruise out of our harbour – and the many more visitors who would want to cruise into these waters are prevented by a lack of government planning and foresight. It will be even sadder if NSW misses out of the tourism dollars that go with cruise passengers.

Cruise terminal for Sydney

The lack of space for cruise ships to dock in Sydney Harbour is an ongoing discussion among many who are involved with the cruise industry – particularly those who live in our magnificent city.
For three to four months a year the harbour welcomes new cruise ships every day, many sailing between the Heads as the sun rises… a memorable experience for those on board.
However there is a shortage of suitable places for ships to dock. Recently the State Government announced a committee to look into the problem of cruise ship facilities in Sydney Harbour, especially east of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Many ships are too big to pass under our famous coathanger so establishing cruise terminals at Darling Harbour (Barangaroo) or White Bay Terminal (not an attractive option with its lack of public transport and industrial port look) is not the answer.
Circular Quay did the job for years but is now dwarfed by many of the visiting ships and because it has been given over to restaurants does not work as well as it should.
However a report in the Sydney Morning Herald on 25 May stated that the Defence Department, which controls Garden Bay where the Queen Victoria docked on her last visit, is planning to base additional naval vessels there and this is not an option.
I hope that the committee has some teeth and is capable of making suggestions that are workable – as the White Bay Terminal currently is not. Another possibility might be Chowder Bay with the old Georges Heights military establishment. This area has enormous historical significance as the site of one of the largest military hospitals after World War I. Would a sympathetic development with a ferry wharf taking passengers across to the city be worth considering? I often walk that way and realise I don’t have any photos to illustrate this idea… must get my camera out next time!
Let’s hope something happens sooner rather than later. There is tremendous competition between ports for cruise line traffic and we want the cruise lines to have an easy choice when planning to include Sydney.