Capacity restraints see harbour cruising for a bruising
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.