Sydney, a Cruising Hub for Australasia

Sydney is without a doubt the center of the cruise industry for the Australasia region – and it's a region which is growing faster than any other. Australians (and New Zealanders) are taking to the water like ducks, and that has seen unprecedented increases year-on-year of the number of cruise passengers.

Australia cruise numbers

In 2014, the Australasian cruise industry reached a major milestone: 1 million cruisers. Reported in May 2015 by the Australasia chapter of the Cruise Lines International Association, this number seems small when compared to the figures reached in the Caribbean and other cruising strongholds. However, it represents an annual increase of more than 20%, following twelve years of similar annual increases which have built up the Australasian cruise community at an astonishing rate.

The South Pacific is not the world's most prolific cruising ground, but it is the fastest-growing. Australia is now the fourth largest source market of cruise passengers in the world, and is on a trajectory to double the "magic million" by 2020.

Sydney: a cruise port on the rise

Australia's biggest and most iconic city has a long history, stretching back to the aboriginal occupation of the region in the Upper Paleolithic period. In 1788, ships began arriving from Great Britain and a penal colony was founded – beginnings which are far removed from the glamourous Sydney we know and love today.

Set to advantage on the shores of one of the world's most beautiful natural harbors, Sydney has long had a strong affinity with the sea. Whaling, sealing, fishing, shipping and more nautical industries have all found their place in the city's history, many focused around Sydney Cove where the bustling Circular Quay is now located.

After the prison colonies were taken over by settlements, many immigrants from Europe and elsewhere arrived on passenger liners to begin a new life in Australia. With the advent of jet planes, the big passenger ships began to be broken up or repurposed – and the cruise industry was born, taking off in North America quickly but establishing itself slowly and steadily in Australasia until the recent rapid growth. Dozens of cheap cruises go in and out of the beautiful Darling Harbor every year.

The Overseas Passenger Terminal on Circular Quay, now the beating heart of cruising in Sydney, was completed in 1960 to host both those immigrants who still arrived in Sydney by ship, and the occasional cruise vessel. The SS Oriana became the first ship to use the terminal on her maiden voyage from Southampton to Sydney. Upgrades since then have seen the terminal keep up with the demands of the fast-growing cruise industry, and passengers arriving or departing from the OPT are treated to spectacular views of the bridge and opera house which are Sydney's most famous landmarks. The White Bay Cruise terminal in Balmain East in 2012 alleviated some of the pressure on the congestion at Circular Quay, taking some of the ships which can fit underneath the Harbor Bridge.

Center of cruising in the South Pacific

As the cruise industry in Australia has boomed, so has the traffic of mega ships in Sydney Harbor. As the biggest city in the Australasia region, and handy to some of the favorite cruising grounds which include the South Pacific isles, New Zealand and various coastal destinations in Australia, it is a busy hub. Cruise traffic is especially frequent over the summer months, and recently Sydney has seen gaggles of ships gracing its cruise terminals and mooring spots, representing a vast range of lines including but not limited to Down-Under favorites such as P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises .

In November 2015, Sydney hosted P & O's "Five Ship Extravaganza", involving all five of the fleet moored around the harbor as the two new ships were officially welcomed and christened with a big celebration More recently, the weekend of the 13th and 14th of February brought a total of six ships to Sydney over two days. Dubbed "Stylish Saturday," the 13th saw four of the world's most luxurious ships docked two apiece at White Bay and the OPT, while on Sunday the 13th the Pacific Eden and Explorer of the Seas were in port.

The schedule for 2016 shows a busy year for the city and its cruise terminals, often hosting at least two ships in one day over the warmest months while maintaining a steady stream of visits and cruises from Sydney during winter. Many are overnight stays, as Sydney is a major departure port for one way and round trip cruises to all corners of the Australasia and South Pacific region. Many Australian ships are homeported in Sydney either year round or part time, and in 2016 this includes the Pacific Aria, Pacific Jewel, Pacific Pearl, Carnival Spirit, Carnival Legend, Dawn Princess, Explorer of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and Celebrity Solstice. The brand new, not-yet-launched Ovation of the Seas will also be based from the city for a brief period next summer.

Article Source Link by Hamish Elley-Brown

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