Ca­pac­ity re­straints see har­bour cruis­ing for a bruis­ing

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Afloat - MERRY KIRK­WOOD

SYD­NEY Har­bour, the coun­try’s largest, is un­der pres­sure to ac­com­mo­date big­ger ocean lin­ers and more cruise vis­i­tors as the in­dus­try grows at a sus­tained 20 per cent a year.

The mat­ter of ca­pac­ity will con­tinue to be de­bated fol­low­ing De­fence Min­is­ter Stephen Smith’s re­cent an­nounce­ment of a gov­ern­ment re­view.

The re­view will re­con­sider the oc­ca­sional use of Gar­den Is­land naval base as a berth for large lin­ers such as Queen Mary 2. But cruise in­dus­try lead­ers fear the loss of this op­tion could stretch berthing fa­cil­i­ties else­where in Syd­ney Har­bour.

‘‘Car­ni­val Aus­tralia com­mends the fed­eral gov­ern­ment for tak­ing steps to ad­dress the se­ri­ous in­fra­struc­ture con­straints faced by the cruise in­dus­try in Syd­ney Har­bour,’’ says chief ex­ec­u­tive Ann Sherry. She wel­comes the re­view as well as planned talks with the NSW Lib­eral gov­ern­ment.

Karen Chris­tensen, Sil­versea’s re­gional di­rec­tor for Aus­tralia and New Zealand, says she sup­ports an ‘‘open di­a­logue on the is­sue’’.

The NSW­gov­ern­ment is ten­der­ing the con­struc­tion of ter­mi­nal build­ings, roads and park­ing at White Bay Cruise Pas­sen­ger Ter­mi­nal, near the west­ern har­bour­side sub­urb of Bal­main.

The site has proved con­tro­ver­sial due to lack of in­fra­struc­ture, and dis­tance by road from the Syd­ney city cen­tre. Be­sides, as cruise ships are gen­er­ally grow­ing in size, many wouldn’t be able to pass un­der the Har­bour Bridge to Bal­main.

In the mean­time, the 50-yearold Over­seas Pas­sen­ger Ter­mi­nal at Cir­cu­lar Quay caters for only one-third of ar­rivals (mainly in­ter­na­tional pas­sen­gers), while tem­po­rary mar­quee fa­cil­i­ties at Baranga­roo Wharf 5 pro­vide a short-term berth for smaller cruise ships.

By 2020, an es­ti­mated one mil­lion Aus­tralians will take a cruise each year.

Surely we de­serve so­phis­ti­cated fa­cil­i­ties that meet our cruis­ing needs.

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