Cruise group has navy in its sights

Sydney Harbour’s perennial parking problems might be a step closer to being solved, with high-profile Navy Reserve Captain and past Opposition Leader Peter Collins appointed to help find more room for cruise ships.

The former Liberal politician is leading a cruise ship industry reference group which has been asked to find a solution to the city’s berthing constraints and report to the NSW Government by next month.

Collins has already named the Garden Island naval base as the most likely candidate for a new cruise facility or shared berthing arrangement, despite resistance from the Royal Australian Navy.

Destination NSW

“I think there’s room for everybody in this,” Collins told ABC radio. “We can have a win-win situation.”

While he stressed other locations would be considered, Collins went as far as pinpointing the site of a now-dismantled crane that once dominated the harbour skyline at the naval base.

“There are a number of locations the reference group will have to look at. Top of the list and the obvious one is where the main crane used to be at Garden Island but there are other options as well,” Collins said. “All of these will be carefully examined and categorised for the minister.”

Sydney’s main Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay is operating close to capacity, while the White Bay Cruise Terminal is inaccessible to larger ships that can’t pass beneath the Harbour Bridge.

Mega-liners including Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 have berthed at Garden Island in the past, but the Navy has a current cap of three cruise ship visits per year and no permanent terminal facilities are available.

Tender operations have become increasingly common on Sydney Harbour when coinciding visits force ships to anchor away from shore, while operators including Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line have recently directed ships away from Sydney due to a lack of berthing slots.

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