When too much cruising is barely enough
COULD we be in for a spot of cruising overkill this Australian summer?
Two giant US lines, Royal Caribbean and Carnival Australia, are going head to head in our waters and they are anticipating a record 525,000 passengers.
That means a lot of staterooms to fill and one line is already selling one-night ‘‘sampler’’ cruises from Sydney on the daily deals website Groupon for a tiny $245 per person twin-share.
Cruise lines are also facing big competition for our tourist dollar from budget airlines such as Jetstar, which is promoting return Sydney to Denpasar flights for as little as $499. One-way business class upgrades are just an additional $199.
Despite cheap international airfares, Australian Federation of Travel Agents chief executive Jayson Westbury says Australians are ‘‘salivating’’ over the coming summer cruise itineraries Down Under. ‘‘What people love about cruising is it’s a one-time unpack and a lot of the time (passengers) drive to the destination they depart from. For budget-conscious travellers, cruising is the way,’’ he says.
But Westbury warns that cruising’s popularity could have consequences for the sluggish domestic tourism sector, which has been hit hard by the increased spending power overseas of the Australian dollar. ‘‘The biggest threat to the growth of the domestic tourism industry is cruising. Where were the people going on holidays before they went on a cruise?’’
The answer is caravan parks, regional resorts, lodges and hotels. Westbury reckons such accommodation will be badly affected this summer as Aussies opt instead for all-inclusive cruises of, say, 14 nights to New Zealand or nine nights in the South Pacific, including Fiji.