Clean sweep for Aust Cruise Association

THE huge pipeline of newbuild cruise ships under construction means it is essential that cruise lines, destinations, ports and ground operators work together to deliver quality experiences and itineraries, according to Carnival Australia president Sture Myrmell. Myrmell, who is also the chairman of Cruise Lines International Association Australasia, was one of the keynote speakers at last month’s Australian Cruise Association (ACA) conference in Broome, Western Australia, with his presence a clear reflection of the conference theme of “Forging stronger relationships”.

Myrmell said the partnership between ACA was going from strength to strength, with a combined 2018 economic impact report to be released this month along with a joint sustainability report which will showcase how the cruise sector is working on a range of environmental fronts. He also highlighted the huge opportunity still available for cruise in Australia. Despite the local market having a world-leading penetration of 5.7%, “that still means more than 94% of Australians have not cruised,” he said.

The Carnival president also dismissed concerns about worldwide cruising growth plateauing, noting that with an annual global total of about 27 million passengers the entire sector is still smaller than many key tourism destinations such as Paris, Venice, New York and Orlando. The pace of construction of new ships means that “at full capacity we can only grow globally at 3-5% — that is measured, steady growth,” Myrmell said. He noted that Australians are a “nation of sea-huggers” with cruise continuing to afford a great option for domestic holidaymakers, while inbound cruise tourism is also seen as a huge opportunity.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines’ recently appointed vice president Australasia, Susan Bonner, also spoke at the ACA conference, urging attendees to prepare for the arrival of ever-larger cruise ships. She noted the strong competition from other ports across the globe for cruise ship deployments, with several Asian destinations already able to welcome Oasis-class vessels. Bonner urged the industry to work collaboratively to come up with solutions to manage the potential influx of large numbers of cruise guests and still maintain passenger satisfaction.

The ACA conference included a presentation from Port of Brisbane ceo Peter Keyte, who confirmed that bookings for the 2020/21 season had opened amid strong demand from a variety of cruise lines. The new facility, which has been underwritten through a long-term partnership with Carnival Corporation, is scheduled to open in the second quarter of 2020, with Keyte saying interest so far indicates “we’re going to need a second berth sooner than we thought”.

The conference wrapped up with a fascinating breakfast presentation from the wardens of the nearby Broome Bird Sanctuary, followed by the ACA annual general meeting where a new management committee was voted in. Officebearers include chairman Grant Gilfillan from Ports NSW, ACA CEO Jill Abel, Thor Elliott of Fremantle Ports, Anne McVilly of Port Arthur Historic Site, Jay McKenzie from Bob Wood Cruise Group, Christine Cole of Tourism WA, Martin Bidgood from Intercruises and Tourism NT’s Scott Lovett. During the event ACA CEO Jill Abel paid tribute to the late Tony Clementson who had represented the NT on the committee, and who died suddenly in late August.

The 2019 Australian Cruise Association conference will take place in early September next year in Geelong, one of Victoria’s emerging cruise destinations.