Fremantle port serves as cruise port to Perth - Western Australia's capital city. The city is called "Freo" (by Western Australians) and "Walyallup" (by the indigenous people living between Geraldton and Esperance). Passenger ferries offer regularly scheduled service between the port and Rottnest Island (at ~ 14 mi / 22 km off of the coast) and also on Swan River to Perth City.
Perth is the 4th most populous Australian city - after Sydney (New South Wales), Melbourne (Victoria) and Brisbane (Queensland) - and followed by Adelaide (South Australia). Trends show that the Australian cruising market is growing at a rapid pace. It has some of the industry's highest penetration rates nationally. The Australian cruise ports' strongest competition today comes from Singapore and Hong Kong (China).
"Project Orient Limited” (POL) plans to build two ocean cruise liners for a regular passenger shipping service between Europe/UK and Australia (Southampton - Sydney NSW). The scheduled itinerary will be 26 days in one direction (Southampton to Sydney, and the reverse Sydney to Southampton). The included ports of call are Fremantle (at the 20-day mark), also Dubai, Mumbai (India) and Singapore. Each of the new ships will be 200,000 GT tons and with capacity 1600 pax. The expected cruise pricing starts from around GBP 2900 per person (one-way).
Fremantle cruise port
Port Fremantle is located at the Swan River's mouth. It is a major part of the Perth City metro area. The cruise ship terminal is located at just 20-min driving distance from Perth City.
The seaport is open the whole year round, but its busiest season is from November to March. The port is a popular stop on around the world voyages. It is also a departure port for port destinations in Asia, UK, South Africa and around Australia. Among the cruise companies visiting Fremantle are Celebrity, Cunard, Holland America, P&O Australia, Princess, Royal Caribbean, also Azamara, Crystal, CMV (Cruise and Maritime) and the Australian line Captain Cook Cruises.
For 2014-2015 season, P&O Australia (a Carnival Corporation subsidiary) based in Fremantle Pacific Jewel (1900 pax). This made it the first cruise line to Margaret River region (located approx 170 mi / 275 km south of Perth). In November 2015, at the seaport debuted the newly acquired ship Pacific Eden (1500 pax, former ms Statendam).
Princess Cruises in 2015-2016 for the first time ever started year-round Fremantle homeport operations (roundtrip departures). It doubled company’s Western Australia capacity to over 45,000 (passengers carried between Apr 2015 - Mar 2016). Port Fremantle also enjoyed its first full season with the liner Sun Princess leaving on 11 itineraries (between Oct 2015 - Mar 2016). Among those was the 46-day India and South Africa cruise from Australia (priced from AUD 8840 per person). By the same program, Queensland (Eastern Australia) received its ever-biggest cruise liner presence with 9 months roundtrips from Port Brisbane. The program had scheduled more than 80 departures out of Australian ports (Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Fremantle) and also from Auckland NZ.
In June 2015 was announced the Western Australia State Government's budget plan to privatize the Fremantle port. The City Council's report said the Perth's cruise ship business of over 100,000 passengers a year is "at a very high risk of being lost in the move to a private port operation". Among the reasons is that current cruise line terminal fees charged by Fremantle Ports are much less than for commercial shipping lines. The privatization is expected to bring between AUD 1,5 and 2 billion, and was part of a plan to reduce seaport's debt.
During season 2015-2016, the port handled a total of 58 cruise ships carrying around 152,000 passengers and crew. Cruising industry generates over AUD 275 million for the WA's economy. During the repositioning from Asia to Australia (Singapore to Sydney) in Dec 2016, the Royal Caribbean ship Ovation of the Seas (5000 pax) was scheduled to visit Fremantle as its first ever port of call in Australia.
In May 2017, Western Australia's cruising industry started a decline due to inadequate seaport infrastructure that caused Carnival Corporation to stop homeporting vessels in Fremantle. Following Carnival's decision, by season 2018-2019, WA lost dozens of voyages - season 2016-2017 (60 cruises), season 2017-2018 (43), season 2018-2019 (17). WA economy's loss was estimated at AUD 130 million. Among Carnival's issues were ship access to Broome channel (resulting in limited ashore time), Geraldton (lack of shore tension units), Exmouth (reliable berthing, lack of floating dock).
By year 2020, Western Australia's cruise industry is expected to increase revenues from AUD 118 million (season 2012-2013) to AUD 274,4 million. That means a market growth rate of 5% annually.
In January 2019 was completed the USD 3,25 million refurbishment of Fremantle Passenger Terminal. The renovated cruise terminal features a redesigned lobby, steel-glass canopy, decorative glass paneling (dividing the escalators and within Customs Hall), modern furniture (in the transit area), repainted facade, new signage boards, new digital banners (at building's entrance).
Cruise itineraries to and from Fremantle-Perth
Follows a list of destinations visited by cruise ships leaving out of Fremantle-Perth:
- World Cruises – from Fremantle are offered around the world voyages by bigger luxury lines (mainly by Cunard, P&O, Princess, CMV-Cruise Maritime). Full-length itineraries (eastbound or westbound) can be up to 110+ days round-trips and usually start from the UK (out of Southampton). On those, Australia is only a mid-itinerary destination offering one-way departures from Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide or Fremantle (Perth) back to Southampton (disembarkation port). The length of such segment itineraries is up to 2 months (UK disembarkation). Smaller segments offer up to 40+ days long westbound itineraries to ports in Asia (Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai) or South Africa (on Around Africa return routes to Europe). Longer segments may end in some of the biggest Mediterranean ports (Piraeus-Athens, Venice, Civitavecchia-Rome, Barcelona). Excluding the South Africa route, all westbound routes to Europe include Suez Canal transition.
- "Circle Australia" and "Around Australia" (full circumnavigation of the continent) itineraries leaving from Fremantle are rarely round-trip. They usually end in Brisbane or Sydney and include stops at some of the continent's largest ports - Geraldton, Broome, Darwin, Yorky's, and often New Guinea (Alotau). The Around Australia round-trip is 1 month long.
- Round-trip Australia to Indonesia cruises out of Fremantle (12-15-days itineraries) visit Komodo Island, Makassar (Ujung Pandang), Semarang, Lombok Island, Probolinggo, Bali Island.
- Round-trip Australia to Asia cruises out of Fremantle (close to a month-long itineraries) visit ports in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia.
- Cruise to Nowhere Fremantle deals are on 3-day round-trip itineraries without any ports of call along the route. Generally, these are themed cruises with popular themes like "food and wine", comedy, sports, wellness, music, "Australia Day", etc. There are onboard pre-scheduled theme events and activities like parties, concerts, meetings, presentations, tastings, etc.
- Short-break ("Mini Cruises") visit Esperance (4-day eastbound itinerary) and to Margaret River (3-day, or 4-day with Albany).
- West Australia (Kimberley Coast) cruises leaving round-trip from Fremantle visit the ports of Geraldton, Broome and Exmouth (8-9-day itinerary route).
- Australia repositioning cruises are considered most of the one-way itineraries between Australia and Asia (mainly to Singapore and Hong Kong) and also when ships change their Australian home ports. The latter include short one-way cruises between Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Fremantle. Fremantle to Sydney and Fremantle to Melbourne cruises are 7-9-day (relocation) south coastal itineraries with no other ports of call. Rarely are available for booking short cruises from Fremantle to Auckland New Zealand (4-days repositioning) without ports of call along the eastbound route.
- Australia to New Zealand cruises out of Fremantle are 17-days one-way (relocation) itineraries with Auckland NZ being the turnaround port and disembarkation in Sydney or Brisbane.
- Captain Cook Cruises from Fremantle to Perth offer a range of river cruising itineraries in the upper Swan River Valley. The valley is a major wine-producing region.
Fremantle cruise terminal
All four Fremantle cruise port terminal berths are at Victoria Quay. The terminal is easily accessible with trains and public transportation services (20-min drive from Perth City). There is short-term parking at C&D Sheds (Victoria Quay). The long- term parking facility is opposite the Police Station at Queensgate Car Park (Henderson Street).
Port Fremantle, besides its passenger (ferry and cruise ship) terminal, also has facilities to handle cargo ships (vehicle carriers, bulk carriers and boxships) and drydock facilities for marine vessel refurbishments and repairs.
- UN-LOCODE (United Nations location code) - AUFRE
- supported by excellent road, rail and air infrastructure
- deep water berths
- sheltered harbor area
- access unrestricted by tides
- capability to accommodate 2 vessels at a time
The Fremantle cruise terminal doesn't provide shore-to-ship power (shore-side electricity supply) which could reduce significantly the levels of emissions, noise and vibration in port.
The seaport is accessible the whole year round – 24/7, 365 days a tear. Cruise ships usually arrive in Fremantle in the early morning (at around 4, 5, 6 or 7 am) and depart from Fremantle-Perth in late afternoon or in the evening (at 4, 5, 6 or 8 pm).
Bottlenose dolphins are prevalent in the area the whole year round. Best places for dolphins watching are Cockburn Sound and Owen Anchorage, also the port's Inner Harbour and upriver (Swan River). Bottlenose dolphins are social animals and live in pods.
Fremantle Passenger Terminal
Cruise ships berth primarily at Fremantle Passenger Terminal (combined berth G-F-D) and also at "D Berth". Passenger disembarkation could take up to 5 hours on larger liners (over 2000 pax).
- address - "Fremantle Passenger Terminal, Victoria Quay, Fremantle 6160, Western Australia"
- location - on Victoria Quay in Fremantle Harbour, at the mouth of Swan River (west bank). Distance between Fremantle port and Perth is 14 mi / 23 km (30 min). Distance between the port and Perth Airport is 17 mi / 27 km (40 min).
- 4 quay berths (labelled G, F, E, D) - ships usually dock at "F Berth".
The cruise ship terminal was inaugurated by Premier David Brand in December 1960. In May 1962, the second stage of its construction was ready. In 2011, the Passenger Terminal won the prestigious awards "City of Fremantle" and "City of East Fremantle Heritage" (for Conservation of a Heritage Place). The best places to see cruise ships in the harbour are on Victoria Quay's western end (near B Shed Ferry Terminal), also on the adjacent to A and B Sheds wharf, near Maritime Museum) and on South-North moles.
Due to requests from cruise lines (based on security reasons and vessel operation procedures), the Fremantle Passenger Terminal is closed to the general public during ship calls. Terminal's 2-story building is of major cultural and historical importance and heritage-listed. It means that all works (maintenance or development) should not destroy or conceal any of its signature elements. The building has a steel frame, with timber parquetry on the second floor and the interior is of hardwood timbers.
Fremantle Passenger Terminal offers as amenities cafe, bar lounge, public bathrooms, complimentary Wi-Fi (during ship calls only), escalator, lifts, public phones. In January 2019 was completed terminal's USD 3,25 million refurbishment. The renovated building features a new ground-floor lobby, steel-glass canopy, decorative glass panelling (dividing the escalators and within Customs Hall), modern furniture (in the transit area), repainted facade, new signage boards, new digital banners (at building's entrance).
Victoria Quay's "B Shed Ferry Terminal" is for the "Rottnest Express" ferries to and from Rottnest Island. The facility has a Cafe & Grill. From here also depart river cruise ships, including of the Captain Cook line's fleet.
Smaller-sized luxury ships, mega-yachts and river cruise ships operating on Swan River dock at Perth port. The distance between both seaports (Perth and Fremantle) is just 9 mi / 14 km.
Western Australia's Government plans a USD 3 million project for upgrading Fremantle Passenger Terminal in order to boost the state's tourism industry. The 20-day overhaul is for South Quay building that will be repainted, its foyer modernised and its entrance upgraded.
Along with the South Quay development project, there is also a plan for new outer harbour in Kwinana (project by Wesport Taskforce). The South Quay waterfront development project also includes building new restaurants and hotels. Refurbishment and construction works are due to be completed in 6 months.
Cruise ship terminal directions & parking
- The city's Central Area Transit (CAT) two bus services link key city points to the inner suburbs. There are also regular ferry service between Fremantle and Perth.
- Walking distance between Fremantle Train Station (or CBD) and the Passenger Terminal is approx 15-20 min. Crossing the railway line is available either at the pedestrian bridge (with ramps, accessible from the carpark at the terminal) or if you leave the carpark and walk westword along Peter Hughes Drive (outside the terminal) towards the Railway Station.
- There is a dedicated taxi rank outside the terminal.
- There is a free cruise shuttle service from the terminal to Kings Square (and back).
- When the ship is docked, the terminal's carpark is open for short-term parking (for passenger pick up / drop off). Overnight parking at the terminal is not available.
- The city's CBD (central business district) has plenty of options for short and long-term parking. Know that especially on weekends, parking demand is very strong.
- Victoria Quay has several parking areas with short and long-term options. All Victoria Quay parking sites are managed by Wilson Parking and patrolled regularly by parking security officers. Wilson Parking contact pnone number is 1300 726 706.
- Victoria Quay long-term parking areas are located near C and D Sheds. Parking costs AUD 7 a day (subject to change). Parking areas are not covered and not secured.
- Free cruise parking (3-hour limit) is available at South and North moles. During maintenance works or due to weather conditions, the moles may by closed.
- Cruise passengers are offered secured and covered long-term pre-paid parking at Queensgate Car Park (Henderson Str, contact phone number 9432 9860).
- B Shed Ferry Terminal parking costs AUD 2,50 per hour (subject to change).
Fremantle tours, shore excursions, hotels
City Tours and Shore Excursions
- Fremantle Prison: the premier attraction for tourists. Its story starts in 1852 with the Convict Establishment construction and ends in 1991 with its closure.
- Round House: the State’s old building offers amazin panoramic view. You can also take part in the time-gun firing every day.
- Whalers Tunnel: it is beneath the Round House and its length is 57 meters. It was cut just for 5 months in the period 1837-1838. Whaler’s tunnel connects the Bathers Bay Whaling Station and High Street.
- Western Australian Museum Shipwreck Galleries: the museum houses wreck and artefacts of centuries. The oldest are from 1629 of Batavia.
- Western Australian Maritime Museum: unique exhibitions of small crafts to commercial luggers. You can see the HMAS Ovens, submarine class Royal Australian Navy Oberon. Also the museum houses Australia 11, yacht that has won the America’s Cup.
- Western Australia Army Museum: located in Burt Street in the Fremantle Artillery Barracks. Discover the history of the Western Australia’s Army with military exhibitions in five galleries.
- Monument Hill: site listed as a heritage. It is part of the Central War memorial. It commemorates the Australian men in women lost in the WWI. It dates from 1928.
- Fisherman’s Wharf: try the fish& chips on Mews Road. It is on the waterfront, the park from Marine Terrace is beyond.
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