Small liners could be turned away
Smaller cruise ships carrying hundreds of passengers could continue to be turned away from Broome because a proposed new gangway would not be designed to reach exit points lower than the jetty.
Industry support group Cruise Broome recently wrote to the State Government calling for a solution to protect the town’s reputation as a top destination for ocean liners.
The move came after the Kimberley Ports Authority cancelled a booking for the 700-passenger capacity Regatta in December as the KPA does not have a gangway to suit that type of ship.
In a letter, Cruise Broome told Transport Minister Rita Saffioti, Tourism Minister Paul Papalia and Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan that planned visits from two more vessels — one in the same month and another in January 2019 — would also be cancelled.
A week after the complaint was made, the State Government revealed in Parliament under questions from northern Australia shadow minister and Member for the Mining and Pastoral Region Ken Baston, that a gangway construction tender for Broome was closing on May 25, 2018.
On behalf of Ms Saffioti, Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the structure would reach 10m above the wharf deck and meet the needs of “almost all 2018 cruise vessels”.
He said a 26-week lead time was anticipated for construction, not including transport and on-site commissioning.
Ms Saffioti said the State Government was disappointed to learn recently there was no immediate solution to provide all tide access to some smaller cruise vessels.
But she said Broome was attracting interest from a greater diversity of vessels after a $7 million commitment from her Government to dredge the Port of Broome and give larger cruise ships all-tide access to the jetty, any time of the day or night.
Ms Saffioti said the number of cruise vessels unable to be provided all tide access to the Port of Broome after construction of the new gangway arrangements would be “minimal”.
“The State Government’s current investment will solve the issue of providing all tide access to bigger ships with thousands of passengers,” she said. “Once we have completed these works, we will be in a better position to look at expanding Broome’s capacity for smaller cruise vessels.
“We will be watching cruise industry trends closely and will work with local industry to see if demand from this sort of cruise grows to inform future investment decisions.”
Ms Saffioti said she has asked the Kimberley Ports Authority to explore “all possible solutions” that could expedite additional access to more cruise vessels.
Mr Baston said the Government’s gangway time line suggested it would be operational in early 2019, providing a suitable tender was received and approved.
“Maintaining an excellent reputation with cruise ship operators is vital to ensuring this lucrative trade continues to grow along the WA coast,” he said. “I encourage the minister to keep a close eye on this project to ensure it is delivered as soon as possible.”
The Dawn Princess in Broome.