Princess Cruises’ spectacular Diamond Princess has made history in Western Australia today, becoming the first cruise ship to visit the city of Busselton.
The 116,000-tonne ship anchored off the coast this morning with her 2580 guests transferring to the city for a full day of sightseeing, shopping and tours.
Princess Cruises Vice President Australia New Zealand Stuart Allison said the cruise line was excited to be the first scheduled visit to Busselton, with another nine visits scheduled in 2015 and 2016.
“Busselton is a great city in a fantastic location so we’re thrilled to be taking thousands of holidaymakers there over the coming months,” Mr Allison said. “It’s a Western Australian jewel which we think our guests will long remember as a great feature of their cruise holidays.”
Mr Allison said each visit was expected to inject more than $300,000 into the local economy with a recent cruise industry economic study showing cruise passengers spend more than $150 a day on average during port visits.
Diamond Princess’ guests have been offered a wide range of tours in the area from sea kayaking in Geographe Bay and exploring Ngili Cave to tours of the city highlights and visits to the nearby Margaret River wine district.
The ship’s visit to Busselton comes 10 days into a 28-day circumnavigation of Australia, which marks the start of her four-month Australian summer deployment.
One of the youngest and largest cruise ships to be based in Australia over the summer cruise season, the 290-metre long Diamond Princess has just undergone a $30 million refurbishment and now boasts the largest Japanese bath area at sea, as well as a sushi restaurant among its multiple dining options. Other ship features include its beautiful Lotus Spa, the popular Movies Under the Stars poolside theatre and The Sanctuary, an exclusive top-deck retreat.
Diamond Princess’ visit to Western Australia reflects Princess’ increased focus on cruising in the State with the cruise line set to undertake its first ever year-round program of sailing from Fremantle next year. The program will see Princess Cruises carry more than 45,000 cruise guests to and from Fremantle from April 2015 to March 2016 with the cruises expected to generate an estimated $30 million for the local economy in Western Australia.
Princess Cruises’ expansion comes as latest figures from Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia showed that the number of Australian cruise passengers grew by an impressive 20 per cent to 833,348 in 2013. WA cruisers accounted for 8 per cent of the market (67,601 passengers).
“Clearly Australian holidaymakers love cruising and we think that Western Australia and cities like Busselton are part of the future growth story for the industry,” Mr Allison said.