portkemblaKembla’s facilities will be put to the test first for 2,400 passengers on 30 October next year when Radiance of the Seas ties up for the day, marking the first time a leisure vessel has visited the port.
It will act as the final stop on a seven-day ‘Tasmania & Australia’ itinerary which leaves Sydney on 24 October, visiting Melbourne and Hobart, with days at sea separating each port prior to the return to Sydney on 31 October.
During its day in Port Kembla, passengers will have a selection of pre-arranged shore excursions to choose from, courtesy buses to parts of town, or can explore the nearby beaches and township of Wollongong at their leisure.
It is estimated the one-day visit will inject upwards of $890,000 into the local economy.
Royal Caribbean Cruises regional vice-president, Gavin Smith, said the line will be closely watching how the Kembla visit pans out as it takes the opportunity to test the port with the prospect of a much closer working relationship on the table.
“As the appetite for cruising continues to grow, expanding our offering for our many international and domestic guests is the key to our continued success. Including Port Kembla on our itineraries will provide our guests the opportunity to sample all that Wollongong and the South Coast has to offer,” said Smith.
Radiance’s forthcoming arrival has been welcomed by councillors from the City of Wollongong, including Cr Leigh Colacino, who is also on the board of Destination Wollongong.
“This is a wonderful outcome for the Illawarra and regional tourism, but also makes business sense for Royal Caribbean to make use of one of the most capable ports on the east coast of Australia.
“Royal Caribbean understands the value of Port Kembla and Wollongong for tourism with its proximity to the Sydney CBD and airport, and the varied attractions of the region whether they are the vibrant nightlife, shopping and dining precincts, the beaches, adventure activities, the wineries of the South Coast and Southern Highlands or simply the outstanding natural attraction of the Illawarra escarpment.”
Cr Colacino’s comments were echoed by Destination Wollongong general manager Mark Sleigh, who saw the port call as a great opportunity for the region and one which will yield “immediate economic benefits and ongoing tourism advantages”.
“Cruising is a booming tourism industry in Australia and the visit by the Radiance of the Seas will bring an influx of visitors to our shores and allow us to show off Wollongong and the South Coast to a whole new audience across the world.”
The inadequacy of Sydney Harbour at peak season and its sole port space at Circular Quay for ships taller than the Harbour Bridge is no secret. The trialling of Port Kembla, which is 100 per cent a freight and mining port, is an interesting move by Royal Caribbean. If passengers can stomach the less-than-appealing sight of smoke stacks and shipping crates bookending the day, the natural beauty of the NSW South Coast, Illawarra region and a good selection of daytime shore excursions awaits. Of course, RCI and the wider cruise industry will be watching for the results of the experiment, not to mention those on Macquarie Street and in Canberra, tired of the loud banging at Garden Island’s front door.

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