Cunard’s 151,400-tonne liner Queen Mary 2 has created a spectacular sight in Sydney today, berthing for the first time in the heart of the city at the Overseas Passenger Terminal (OPT) at Circular Quay.
The largest ship ever to visit Australia, Queen Mary 2 stretches 345 metres along the waterfront at the Quay and rises 62 metres above the water line – just five metres below the highest sail of the adjacent Sydney Opera House and 10 metres above the 52-metre navigational clearance for the Sydney Harbour Bridge road deck.
The liner’s arrival this morning for her first overnight stay in Sydney marks the end of her Royal Circumnavigation of Australia which has seen her spend 30 days in Australian waters – the longest she has been based outside her Northern Hemisphere homeports of New York and Southampton.
Carrying around 2500 guests, the Cunard flagship sailed down the Harbour early this morning, reversing before coming alongside at the OPT. Around 1900 guests will disembark this morning with another 1900 due to embark this afternoon.
Bringing Queen Mary 2 alongside at Circular Quay, instead of berthing at Garden Island Naval Base, was possible following Sydney Ports Corporation’s installation of a new anchoring point, which can cater for larger ships at the OPT.
Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia, which represents Cunard Line in Australia, said Queen Mary 2's use of Circular Quay confirmed that an upgraded OPT would be an important element in improving Sydney’s ability to handle cruise ship visits.
“While Queen Mary 2’s use of the Overseas Passenger Terminal adds a new chapter to Sydney’s maritime history, the harbour still needs a ‘three berth solution’ with one berth west of the bridge and two in the eastern harbour including shared use of Garden Island during peak periods,” Ms Sherry said.
“During the current cruise season, a number of cruise ships have had to moor mid harbour because they were too big to sail under the bridge and no suitable berth was available. Having to be ferried ashore on tender vessels is not the welcome to Sydney international visitors would expect.
“Queen Mary 2 at the Overseas Passenger Terminal provides a glimpse of the flexibility and growth that will result from Sydney Harbour having appropriate port facilities to support the industry’s increasing economic contribution.”
Ms Sherry said Queen Mary 2’s overnight stay in Sydney was worth more than $1 million to the local economy.
According to industry analysis, the Australian cruise industry has grown on average by nearly 20 per cent a year since 2002 in terms of passenger numbers. Nearly half a million Australians took a cruise holiday in 2010.
Queen Mary 2’s visit follows her earlier one day call to Sydney on February 14. The liner will sail from Sydney at 8.30pm tomorrow night as she continues on her fifth world voyage - a 108-night odyssey. She will return next year on a 106-night world voyage which will include an inaugural Royal Circumnavigation of New Zealand.