Cruise ships could return to the Whitsundays in a matter of months. Picture: Shirley Wodson Photography
Cruise ships could return to the Whitsundays in a matter of months. Picture: Shirley Wodson Photography

GOOD CRUISE NEWS: Tourists to keep town ticking over

A return of cruise ships to Whitsunday shores could prove vital in keeping the tourism sector ticking over in a typically quiet time.

The bosses of Carnival have high hopes to run cruises to Queensland waters out of Sydney from late April, while the Carnival Spirit is expected to be based in Queensland from late June.

Carnival Cruise Line Vice President and General Manager Australia Jennifer Vandekreeke said the company was buoyed by the demand for Queensland cruises.

“We are going to be back with bells on,” she said.

“We’re still in the hands of the state and federal governments, but there is already a lot of excitement about getting cruising back.”

In the last financial year before COVID, the Whitsundays was set to welcome more than 70 boats.

Carnival cruises are set to return to Queensland this year. Picture: Aerial Media Gladstone
Carnival cruises are set to return to Queensland this year. Picture: Aerial Media Gladstone

With each passenger spending an average of $150 during their onshore visits, the industry was set to make about $10 million from cruises alone.

Tourism Whitsundays CEO Tash Wheeler said the potential return of cruises would go a long way in bolstering the number of visitors in the quieter months.

“It’s important for a tourism destination to have diverse segments of visitation and what the cruise market does is provide us peaks to fill the troughs at different times of the year,” she said.

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“Traditionally, the majority of our cruise ships come through between late February and June, and that can be really helpful for our region because we all know that period is quite quiet.

“While the people aren’t staying in the region, they are coming and they’re doing day tours and spending money.”

However, Mrs Wheeler said being picky about the type of ships welcomed ashore would be important.

“We need to ensure that we’re focused on bringing in the boutique ships,” she said.

“Mass carriage isn’t necessarily our best outcome.

“We want a balanced visitor that is actually going to spend money when they come to the region.

“Looking at the portfolio of ships and ensuring that the customers that come in are going to actually spend money when they come here (is important).”


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