Newcastle hosted the biggest ship of any kind to visit the port yesterday (Sun March 9) when Celebrity Solstice visited the port. More than 100 passengers from the ship joined an organised shore tour from the ship to Port Stephens to join a Moonshadow Cruise on the blue waters of Port Stephens to see the region’s famous dolphins. Many more organised their own trips to Port Stephens, only 45 mins north of Newcastle, to slide down the area’s huge sand dunes and swim at Port Stephens’s pristine beaches or look for the many koalas that make the bush at Port Stephens their home.

“The rapidly expanding cruise ship industry is a new but growing source of visitor revenue for Port Stephens with our spectacular seaside scenery, wildlife, adventure activities and fine cuisine less than an hour from the gangway at Newcastle,” said Destination Port Stephens Marketing Manager, Tars Bylhouwer.

Sales and Development Manager for Moonshadow Cruises, Janene Rees said the cruise operator had been very active over the past six years working to tap the cruise ship market and was a member of industry lobby group, Cruise Down Under, and also worked closely with Cruise Hunter. “Sunday proved an absolutely stunning day on the waters of Port Stephens for the Celebrity Solstice passengers, who enjoyed watching the playful dolphins and the stunning scenery during their Moonshadow cruise,” Ms Rees said. “A crew from the Discovery Channel also filmed the whole tour from start to finish which added to the excitement.

“The ship’s visit  was a significant day for those like us who have been involved in the cruise ship market. Having a large ship with 2800 passengers in our region was such a thrill and I heard the captain said it was one of the warmest and friendliest welcomes he had witnessed which was great.  We are all looking forward to many more visits by cruise ships to Newcastle with more passengers seeing more of Port Stephens during their visit.”