WA on cruise liner radar
WA could be on the cusp of a major cruise-ship boom, just two years after the local industry was on its knees with the decision by an international liner to quit the State.
But Carnival Australia president Sture Myrmell this week confirmed that his company would be returning to WA, with its superliner Sea Princess basing itself in Fremantle at the end of next year.
And Mr Myrmell now believes that WA is well-placed to capitalise on the enormous growth in cruise-ship holidays around the world, and among Australians.
Carnival’s decision to drop WA from its itinerary schedules saw the number of cruise ships visiting Fremantle drop to 34 last year, compared to 43 in 201617.
But Mr Myrmell , who was a keynote speaker at last week’s Australian Cruise Association conference in Broome, said things had changed and Carnival’s P&O and Princess lines would be returning to WA.
Infrastructure had improved — particularly in regional areas — and many destinations had made a concerted effort to improve the tourism offerings for passengers.
“We obviously have to make commercial decisions and we do that by listening to what our passengers want,” he said. “If they don’t like a place or there is bad feedback, we have to look seriously at the viability of that destination.
“We now have key destinations in WA, like Broome, that people want to visit and it is encouraging that steps are being taken to ensure visits are as comfortable as possible.”
Royal Caribbean Cruise (Australia and New Zealand) managing director Susan Bonner said WA was a particularly important region for her company, with much potential for growth.
“Everything we do is to maximise the experience for our guests,” she said. “And if there is good product in WA, consumer demand will drive our itineraries in the future.”
ACA chief executive Jill Abel agreed that growth was possible and that infrastructure issues, particularly in regional areas, “appear to be being sorted”.
Infrastructure issues have been particularly relevant in Broome, but the State Government is confident they can be overcome, with dredging of the port channel (due to begin before the end of the year) and the purchase of an all-tide gangway system by next year.
Tourism Minister Paul Papalia, who opened the conference, said the Broome work had contributed to Carnival’s decision to return to WA.