(Noon AEST) — A busy weekend with six ships in Sydney capped off a huge week of cruising for the harbour city — and there’s more to come. February is Sydney’s busiest ever cruise month, with 27 different ships making 45 calls in 29 days. The wave of activity will continue into March, when 17 ships will make 33 calls in 30 days.
Four of the world’s most luxurious ships berthed in Sydney Harbour on 13 February, which the local arm of CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) dubbed “Stylish Saturday”. Seabourn Odyssey and Silver Whisper were docked at White Bay Cruise Terminal in Rozelle, while Le Soleal and Azamara Quest shared the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay.
It was the first time in history that two modern cruise ships have shared the OPT, an event made possible by the small size of the vessels. Ponant’s 200-passenger, 142-metre long Le Soleal, one of the youngest ships in the world, was making its maiden call to Sydney, while Azamara Club Cruises’ 686-passenger, 180-metre long Azamara Quest was visiting for a second time as part of the line’s inaugural season in Australia.
The dual berthing was also made possible by the new mooring dolphin installed at the northern end of the wharf as part of last year’s upgrade of cruise facilities by the Port Authority of NSW.
Then on Sunday, local newcomers now based in Australia, P&O’s Pacific Eden and Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas, brought the total ships in Sydney up to six. Last week also saw visits by two other Royal Caribbean ships, two from Princess Cruises and one each from Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line.
CLIA Australasia commercial director Brett Jardine said the visit by four luxury ships was testament to Sydney’s popularity as a world-class cruise destination.
“When it comes to cruising, Sydney is in hot demand, as Saturday demonstrated. To have four of the world’s most elegant ships visiting on one day is an extraordinary event and great news for the local economy,” Jardine said.
The largely international tourists spent their time shopping and sightseeing, with some staying in a hotel before or after their cruise.
“CLIA studies show international passengers cruising from Sydney spend an average $762 a day in the city, while transiting guests spend more than $200 a day, so between guest and crew expenditure, ship provedoring and port charges, we estimate these ships’ visits would have injected more than $2 million into the economy in just one day,” Jardine said.
All four cruise lines visiting on Saturday confirmed that Sydney was one of their most popular ports of call.
Azamara’s regional commercial director Adam Armstrong said Sydney is the line’s highest rated port. “To berth here, side by side with Ponant, demonstrates not only the excellent improvements to infrastructure in Sydney, but also the growth and demand for this luxury style of cruising.”
Ponant chairman Asia Pacific Sarina Bratton said: “Ponant continues to make significant investment in Australia and is committed to growing the region as both an important source market as well as a significant destination for our global base of guests, as seen by by the introduction of our Kimberley voyages in 2017.”
Seabourn’s Seattle-based senior vice president of global marketing and sales, John Delaney, who was visiting Sydney on the weekend, said the city was a key attraction on the ultra-luxury cruise line’s itineraries every summer, and next year would be an even bigger highlight.
“Sydney is such an iconic and popular port with our guests and Australians have shown such a strong affinity with Seabourn that we purposely decided to bring our newest ship, the beautiful Seabourn Encore down to Sydney next February for her maiden season, just weeks after her inaugural ceremony in Singapore,” Delaney said.
Silversea general manager Australasia Karen Christensen said Silver Whisper’s visit was representative of the enduring appeal of Sydney. “Silversea has been visiting not only Sydney but many Australian ports since the company started in 1994, with its luxury presence contributing to the local economy on each call,” she said.