Wollongong tracked as alternative cruise homeport

By ,   September 7, 2015 ,   Cruise Industry

Royal Caribbean International (RCI) is testing Wollongong's Port Kembla as a potential new homeport for its fleet in Australia, which is running out of options for docking in Sydney.

The operator of the largest cruise ships down under has spent years in seeking a solution to the berths' shortage in Sydney Harbour, where the main facility can only accommodate one ship at a time. The White Bay terminal, which is the second one, is inaccessible to bigger vessels that cannot fit under Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Looking at Port Botany, situated 12 km southeast of the city centre, and currently at Port Kembla, about 80 km south, Royal Caribbean last week made a statement about setting up a new, second homeport in New South Wales.

The news about Radiance of the Seas visiting Port Kembla for the first time in 2016, was described as "the first step in investigating an ongoing relationship” by the regional vice president of RCI, Gavin Smith. He said that including Port Kembla in their itineraries would provide Royal Caribbean guests with the opportunity to sample all that the South Coast and Wollongong had to offer. At the same time, it would help the line to investigate Kembala as an alternative homeport.

The venture had taken over 2 years to plan, according to Cr Leigh Colacino, Destination Wollongong board member. He added that was a wonderful outcome for Illawarra, New South Wales and regional tourism and also made business sense for RCI.

The visit of Radiance of the Seas is scheduled for October, next year, as part of a 7-night East Coast & Tasmania cruise. The mega liner will bring in 2400 passengers each time it docks at Port Kembla, injecting USD 890,000 into local economy.