Insufficient port infrastructure curbs cruising industry
ACCORDING to Lisa Bauer, the Miami-based vicepresident of global sales and marketing for Royal Caribbean Cruises, cruising unfairly gets a bad rap for attracting the ‘‘overfed, newly wed and nearly dead’’. In fact, Bauer claims, the average age of her cruise line’s passengers is 42.
In Australia’s peak cruise season of October-April, RCC expects to carry more than 200,000 passengers in our waters, compared with 35,000 just two seasons ago.
However, there is a problem. Like her corporate rival Ann Sherry, the chief executive of Carnival Australia, Bauer says potential growth in the local cruise market is being held back by insufficient port infrastructure, particularly in Sydney and Brisbane.
Sydney Ports Corporation has been looking at redeveloping the city’s Overseas Passenger Terminal at East Circular Quay for about a year, but it is yet to announce firm plans. The 1960s-built terminal needs to be expanded to cope with the new wave of megaliners, which typically carry more than 4000 cruisers. Such an influx of passengers requires larger customs facilities and upgraded parking and public transport options.
‘‘We think this market has huge potential,’’ Bauer says. ‘‘[But] in order for more ships [to berth], something needs to be done [about] port infrastructure. We’ve been talking about Brisbane. We see a lot of potential there.’’
RCC’s local chief executive officer, Gavin Smith, is a strong advocate for moving berthing facilities from Sydney Harbour to Botany Bay. ‘‘Invariably, cruise ship terminals around the world are being moved out of big cities,’’ he says. ‘‘It’s easier for provisioning. Botany Bay may not have a view of the Sydney Opera House, but it is adjacent to international and domestic airports and there are a lot of other pluses.’’
Bauer dismisses industry scuttlebutt that RCC’s primary reason for sending so many of its ships to Australia (there are four down under this month) is because the cruise line’s more traditional markets, such as the Caribbean, are not performing due to the poor state of the North American economy.
She says Australia is an amazing cruise destination and on everyone’s bucket list.