As the popularity of cruising surges across Australia, leading cruise line Princess Cruises has kickstarted Victoria’s busiest cruise season with the arrival of superliner Dawn Princess in Melbourne today.
Dawn Princess will be based in Melbourne for the next six months, headlining a summer cruise season which will see 28 ships make 78 calls to the city between October 2014 and April 2015. This represents an increase of 16 per cent on the 67 visits made during the 2013-14 season, and a 34 per cent increase on the 58 visits the season prior.
With three Princess ships – Dawn Princess, Diamond Princess and Sun Princess - making 24 calls this summer, including Dawn Princess’ 14 turnaround visits, the cruise line will account for almost a third of the mega Melbourne season and is set to contribute more than $18 million into the State economy between October and April.
Dawn Princess alone will carry more than 30,000 holidaymakers on cruises from Melbourne this summer, with many of them spending time in the city pre and post cruise.
Princess Cruises’ spokeswoman Meg Koffel said the cruise line had been a driving force behind the city’s emergence as a cruise hub in recent years, with more plans for growth on the horizon.
“We’ve been cruising from Melbourne for seven years, offering Melburnians the chance to see the world from their doorstep. Next year, we’re thrilled to be bringing Golden Princess down under for the first time and basing it in Melbourne. The 108,000-tonne Golden Princess will be the largest cruise ship ever to be deployed in the Victorian capital and will see our capacity in the State increase by 23 per cent next year,” Ms Koffel said.
Speaking onboard the 2000-guest Dawn Princess to launch Melbourne’s cruise season today, Victorian Minister for Tourism and Major Events Louise Asher said a record cruise season meant a record economic injection into the State.
“Cruising is booming across Australia but with this record season and more ships on the horizon in 2015, Melbourne has firmly established its position on the Australian cruise map and we’re enjoying all the flow on effects from cruise tourism. Every time a cruise ship docks in Melbourne we see hundreds of thousands of dollars poured into the local economy and with 28 ships making a record 78 visits to our State – that’s a healthy injection of about $50 million in the coming months,” Ms Asher said.
The 78 calls for the summer cruising season will feature 24 turnaround visits, which are estimated to inject about $1 million each through supplies, port fees and charges as well as passenger and crew expenditure on items such as shopping, meals, accommodation and taxis.
Ms Koffel said guests on Dawn Princess enjoyed fresh Victorian produce and wine.
“Our shopping list ranges from Goulburn Valley to King Valley and includes thousands of kilograms of fresh fruit, vegetables, dairy products, meat and, of course, Victorian wine. In fact, we stock more wine from Victoria than any other wine region in Australia across our four locally-based ships,” Ms Koffel said.
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 with Victorian cruisers accounting for 17 per cent of the market (141,669 passengers).
“Australia’s record passenger numbers in 2013 cap off a decade featuring a staggering annual growth rate of 20 per cent. Clearly Australian holidaymakers love cruising and we think that Victoria is part of the future growth story for the industry,” Ms Koffel said.
When Golden Princess debuts down under in Melbourne next year, the cruise line will have a record 5 of its 18 ship-fleet sailing in Australian waters, with Australia its number one market outside America.