Royal Caribbean Eyes Australia's Port Kembla for Potential Expansion
PHOTO: Australia's Port Kembla. (Courtesy of Thinkstock)
Royal Caribbean International's Ovation of the Seas will be the largest cruise ship to sail to Australia when it launches in 2016.
And in hopes of extending the ship's Australian season and combating congestion at Sydney Harbour, cruise officials are eyeing nearby ports, including Port Kembla in Wollongong, Cruise Critic reported.
"The thinking is, if we moved our smallest ship, Radiance of the Seas, to Wollongong for a few turnarounds, would that allow us to extend our Ovation season? It's doable," Royal Caribbean's regional vice president of Asia Pacific Gavin Smith told Cruise Critic.
Smith said the port "could easily accommodate baggage and border control, so we haven't got to build anything," adding that "it ticks all the boxes."
"If people can overcome the emotion of an industrial harbour, I can see no downsides," Smith told Cruise Critic. "It's not unusual to have a port an hour from an airport, so I see no problem with bringing people by bus from Sydney Airport to Wollongong."
Australia's Port of Newcastle is also a potential alternative, with Smith saying it's "not beyond the realm of possibility."
Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas will become the first cruise ship to call at Port Kembla in October 2016, but Smith noted that it could be years before the cruise line returns. "We won't be calling in 2016-17 but we will call again in 2017-18," he told Cruise Critic. "If we can negotiate an extension to Ovation in early 2018, that might mean it will happen then, but it is more likely to be late 2018."
Given the access to popular tourist destinations, Smith expressed optimism that other cruise lines may follow suit and incorporate Wollongong into more of their itineraries.
With Sydney Harbour's cruise terminals booked up for years to come, and Port Kembla presenting an almost ideal substitute, it's not difficult to see why.
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