The port will make a grand entrance to the cruise scene with an inaugural visit by this 293-metre long vessel, a favourite in the line's Australian fleet. She will bring 2,400 passengers to head ashore and enjoy the laid-back city of Wollongong, packed with places to go, eat, drink and learn. They can also take advantage of the fabulous South Coast beaches and the many outdoor activities on offer, by signing on for any one of a range of trips and tours offered by the line or by exploring independently.
Port Kembla's cruisy future
The visit is not the end of the line for Wollongong either, as Royal Caribbean Cruises' Regional Vice President Gavin Smith has stated that the line aims to include the port in more itineraries and perhaps even as an alternative home port for New South Wales cruisers.
"As the appetite for cruising continues to grow, expanding our offering for our many international and domestic guests is the key to success" he said. "Including Port Kembla on our itineraries will provide our guests the opportunity to sample all that Wollongong and the South Coast has to offer. At the same time, it will give us the chance to investigate Port Kembla as an alternative home port, as an overflow to congestion in Sydney Harbour."
On the shore side of operations, Destination Wollongong General Manager Mark Sleigh is equally positive about the benefits of Port Kembla joining the Royal Caribbean roster: "It is terrific that one of the world's leading tourism operators has seen the potential of Wollongong as a genuine, world-class tourist destination. Cruising is a booming tourism industry in Australia and the visit by the Radiance of the Seas will bring an influx of visitors to our shores and allow us to show off Wollongong and the South Coast to a whole new audience across the world."
What's onshore in Wollongong
Although "The Gong" often flies under the tourist radar, it's a bit of a gem. Just one and a half hours from Sydney, it combines the many sights and sounds of city life with the best of Australia's natural coastal assets: seventeen uncrowded beaches for surfing or swimming, beautiful coastal lookouts, bush-clad mountains and the lovely Lake Illawara. Here are a few of the things you might enjoy while docked there:
- Try some bush walking. The Mount Keira Ring Track is a 5.5 kilometre loop through Eucalyptus and rainforest which makes the perfect easy hike for visitors to the area.
- North Beach is a good place to start for those who want to hit the sand, offering lots of green space but also proximity to the city centre.
- There are many excellent eateries in the city: head to Keira Street or Corrimal Street for some fabulous dining opportunities.
- The Nan Tien Buddhist Temple is just south of the city and is the largest of its kind in the entire Southern Hemisphere - definitely worth a visit for a unique cultural experience!
- Take to the air and go skydiving or hang gliding, both common activities in Wollongong and the surrounding areas. Adventure-seeking families might prefer the Jamberoo Action Park, a water theme park which is home to the monster Funnel Web thrill ride.