When too much cruis­ing is barely enough

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence -

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.

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