Interest in cruising around Australia and New Zealand is growing exponentially. 2016 was a record smashing year for Australia, with a 21 percent increase in the number of Aussies taking a cruise - the largest percentage increase in the country’s cruising history. New Zealand also saw vast improvements, with an estimated 33 per cent increase in passenger numbers in the 2015-2016 cruise season.
As more mega ships are built and more people take to vacations at sea, it’s only natural that coastal cities are upping their game with infrastructure to help welcome these tourism titans. Here are a few of the game-changing new ports coming to Australasia.
Currently when passengers arrive in Newcastle, their cruise line either must tender them to shore, or the ship will dock at Dyke Point across the harbour and guests are forced to take a shuttle into the CBD. But this is soon to change for the better with plans to build a new dedicated cruise terminal in town. It was announced late last year that $13 million has been set aside for the development.
According to Port of Newcastle Premier Mike Baird, the new port will be ready from 2018 to welcome in some of the greatest liners in the world, and will be the “envy of the nation”. Such a development is great news for this New South Wales town as it looks forward to the added tourism dollars the port will no doubt attract, and for travellers who are keen to explore more of Australia’s east coast.
Lyttelton used to be where cruise ships would dock when coming in to visit Christchurch and Canterbury in New Zealand prior to 2011. That is, until a devastating earthquake destroyed the port. In the intervening years, cruise ships have been pulling into Akaroa Harbour, which - while picturesque - does not have the necessary infrastructure to accommodate docking ships.
Now, with a $56 million cash injection, a new port is in development for Lyttelton Harbour with plans to open in the spring of 2019. The port will be designed to accept ships as large as the Oasis of the Seas, currently the third largest ship in the world. Not only is this an exciting development for the increasing numbers of travellers who want to visit New Zealand, but a welcome initiative for the city of Christchurch, which is trying to draw back in tourists to continue its rebuild and return to prosperity.
The current Brisbane Hamilton Portside terminal is not big enough to accommodate large ships such as the Oasis of the Seas, which visited the city in February. Brisbane is already a top cruise destination, and Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt has highlighted how an estimated 60 percent of cruise ships that visit Australia will be longer than 270 metres within five years, and the lack of infrastructure is therefore inhibiting the city’s ability to appropriately capitalise on this burgeoning industry.
After some deliberation, an agreement has been made regarding a $100 million cruise ship terminal for the mouth of the Brisbane River. Design work and engineering for the new port can begin but the exact final investment decision has yet to be confirmed. When the requirement to prove the viability of the project has been met, the new port can finally go ahead. As the positive implications for Australia’s cruise passengers and the wider cruise industry hang in the balance, we wait with bated breath for the advancement of the project.