In a resounding confirmation of cruise season’s contribution as a major economic event, Sydney is set to host the month-long Festival of Cruising with a record 26 ships making an unprecedented 33 visits during February alone.
Five more ships will visit for the festival than in February last year – the previous busiest cruise ship month on record in Sydney – with each ship visit representing a special event in its own right.
So many cruise ships are visiting that several will moor mid-harbour before ferrying passengers ashore to enjoy the many attractions of the harbour city.
Highlights of the Festival of Cruising include the Valentine’s Day arrival of Cunard’s 151,400-tonne flagship, Queen Mary 2 and sister ship Queen Elizabeth’s visit on February 28 for an overnight stay.
Other festival high points include the arrival of the UK-based P&O Cruises ships Aurora, on February 17, and Oriana on February 23 for a special celebration of P&O’s 175th anniversary.
Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia, which represents 13 of the visiting cruise ships, said the Festival of Cruising emphasised cruising’s contribution as the standout success of the Australian tourism sector.
“The Festival of Cruising underlines the contribution that cruise ships make to the local economy,” Ms Sherry said.
“Analysis we commissioned from Deloitte Access Economics shows cruise passengers, crew and cruise ship operators spent a combined $400 million in Sydney in 2010-2011 alone.
“Their combined spending is expected to increase to $1.3 billion by 2019-2020 as the economic contribution of cruising continues to grow.
“Passenger ships are also a vital part of Sydney Harbour’s maritime heritage and while our ships will visit ports around Australia during the Festival of Cruising, Sydney remains the Australian gateway for visiting ships.”
Commenting on the Festival of Cruising, NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events, George Souris, said the importance of the cruise industry to Sydney and NSW could not be understated.
“It continues to make a valuable contribution to the State’s economy and is an important factor that has helped the NSW Government develop its strategy to double expenditure by visitors to NSW by 2020,” Mr Souris said.
"Cruising is certainly one of the most exciting segments in the leisure market, with continuing strong growth prospects as the record number of liners arriving in the harbour city indicates.
"Sydney’s performance in recent years has helped make Australia one of the world’s fastest growing cruise markets with 157 ship calls to Sydney in 2010-2011 and 210 calls forecast for 2011-2012 with 246 scheduled for 2012-2013. Sydney is recognised by the international cruise industry as one of the most attractive harbour approaches in the world."
The 13 ships visiting from across Carnival Australia’s fleets include P&O Cruises’ Pacific Jewel, Pacific Pearl and Pacific Sun; Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth; Princess Cruises’ Sea Princess, Diamond Princess and Pacific Princess; P&O Cruises World Cruising ships Oriana and Aurora; Seabourn’s Odyssey and Holland America’s Amsterdam and Volendam.