Voyager of the Seas docked in Sydney. (photo: Clyde Dickens)

It will be another record year for cruise ships calling in New South Wales for 2015-2016, according to the CEO of Destination NSW, Sandra Chipchase.

Sydney is the headline port, but is supported solidly by Eden and Newcastle, with Eden seeing a 200 percent increase in traffic this coming season. Sydney recently upgraded its Overseas Passenger Terminal, while Eden is in the middle of a big wharf extension project.

“This clearly demonstrates the interest in the region,” said Chipchase.

Destination NSW has taken a proactive approach and developed a series of Welcome to Sydney videos for cruise lines to use aboard and online.

“These videos have been tailored to different markets, from high-end luxury to families and the domestic market, and will provide passengers with a flavor of the extensive range of experiences and destinations surrounding Sydney, available through shore excursions and tours,” explained Chipchase.

Looking ahead, in December 2016 Sydney will welcome the Ovation of the Seas as it homeports in NSW. Following the Ovation, Norwegian Cruise Line will arrive on the scene in 2017 with the Norwegian Star, which will sail out of Sydney and Auckland.

Long-Term

The region is planning long term, as a 10-year cruise plan is expected to be announced later this year.

A key part of this may touch on the Coastal Shipping Act, which is Australia’s version of the Jones Act.

P&O Australia's Pacific Dawn (photo: Clyde Dickens)

“Legislation is currently being prepared to implement the reforms,” said Chipchase. “Currently, all ships, freight and passenger, must meet licensing requirements, unless they have an exemption is issued by the Commonwealth Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development.”

More regional ports could also be developed, as Chipchase expects traffic to continue increasing in Australia.

"With an increase in Asian visitors, and an increase in cruising, we may also see more cruise passengers from Asia looking to Sydney for fly-in, cruise-out holidays along Australia’s coast and into the South Pacific,” she said.

Regional Ports

Supporting traffic sailing from Sydney, Chipchase offers two strong ports in Newcastle and Eden.

“Newcastle is a modern beachside metropolis and a gateway to the Hunter Valley wine region,” Chipchase said. “Newcastle offers a diverse range of experiences and shore tours for cruise ship passengers including food and wine in the Hunter Valley, sand-boarding and quad biking on the dunes or taking a dolphin cruise in Port Stephens.

“The Port of Eden, located on the south coast of NSW, half way between Sydney and Melbourne, is the third deepest natural harbor in the world,” she continued. “The region offers a range of experiences from diverse coastal wilderness to golden beaches and crystal clear water. It is home to some of Australia’s most significant whale heritage sites and whale watching experiences.”

Highlights

Sydney will continue to put itself on the world stage with a number of high-profile events including the Extreme Sailing Series on Sydney Harbour, Rally Australia in Coffs Harbour, Matilda the Musical, the Sydney Running Festival and the 60th Anniversary of My Fair Lady at the Sydney Opera House.

One of the world’s best restaurants, Copenhagen-based Noma, will relocat to Sydney for 10 weeks in early 2016 to share the best of Australian produce as seen through the eyes of head chef René Redzepi. Noma will temporarily close in Copenhagen, Denmark and open its new waterfront home at Barangaroo on Sydney Harbor.

n 2014, NSW logged 79 million visitor nights, with international arrivals up 7 percent. Significant growth markets included China, up 19 percent; the U.S., up 8 percent; India, up 23 percent; and Germany, up 12 percent. China remains the top market for international tourists coming to NSW, with about 500,000 Chinese visiting annually.