Australia’s largest cruise operator Carnival Australia has welcomed Federal Government funding support for Norfolk Island, which it says will open the way for a significant increase in cruise ship visits to the island.
Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry said the new Regional Development Fund allocation would allow Norfolk Island to make much-needed improvements to its cruise infrastructure to improve the reliability of passenger transfers.
“Our ships have missed more than 70 per cent of scheduled calls to Norfolk Island in recent years due to the combined effect of prevailing weather and the operating limitations of normal cruise ship tenders,” Ms Sherry said.
“As a result we’ve had to virtually remove Norfolk Island from our itineraries year, which has been very disappointing. Only last week weather conditions near the island meant we had to abort one of only two visits planned for Norfolk Island this year, disappointing our 2000 passengers and creating another missed opportunity for the cash-strapped Island.”
Ms Sherry said Carnival Australia had last year funded the design of purpose-built tender boats that could be operated by certified Norfolk Island locals to ensure the transfer of passengers from its ships to the island in the swell conditions often experienced in local waters.
“The new Government funding means the island can now go ahead and order the construction of these tenders and we can look at increasing our visits. We estimate that more than 70 per cent of our scheduled calls will happen once the new certified tender boats are available, which gives us the confidence to include Norfolk Island in future itineraries.”
“It’s great news for our passengers and wonderful news for Norfolk Island which will receive a real economic boost from the cruise ship visits. A successful cruise industry could deliver thousands of tourists a year to the island and add millions of dollars in economic value to the community.”
Ms Sherry said P&O Cruises, which is operated by Carnival Australia, had longstanding connections to Norfolk Island which featured on the cruise line’s first itinerary from Australia in 1932. She said visits to the island by P&O Cruises in recent years had been very popular, with passengers enjoying the island’s wonderful blend of history, culture and natural beauty.
“With the knowledge that the new infrastructure is on the way we’ll be looking at increasing P&O Cruises’ visits to Norfolk Island again once the works are complete.
“We’ll also be spreading the word amongst Carnival Australia’s other brands including Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines, Cunard, Holland America Line, Seabourn and P&O Cruises World Cruising to let them know that Norfolk Island will soon be back on the cruise map.”