Sydney Harbour is struggling to handle the region’s growing ship traffic. Authorities are being forced to consider alternative locations to dock ships in the area, like Botany Bay, just south of Sydney.
There are virtually no free slots remaining at the Overseas Passenger Terminal (OPT) opposite the Opera House before 2017, and many ships are too large to sail under the Harbour Bridge to reach the city’s newest terminal at White Bay. Between the various cruise lines that dock to load and unload passengers in the harbour, traffic is growing steadily more congested.
“We are running out of capacity and there’s no apparent immediate solution,” said Port Authority of New South Wales CEO Grant Gilfillan. “We can’t ignore it.”
With a Botany Bay development possibly costing as much as $500 million, and just for spillover traffic from Sydney, Gilfillan suggested cruise operators consider travelling into Sydney at night when there is less congestion.
Royal Caribbean Asia Pacific vice president Gavin Smith says RCL favours using the Port Botany container terminal while a “longer-term solution” is found, but Carnival prefers to utilise the naval base at Garden Island, near the Opera House.
The two largest cruise operators Royal Caribbean (RCL) and Carnival Corporation (CCL), which runs P&O Cruises, have also begun diverting their ships away from Sydney. The two cruise industry leads are in a race to be the first to remedy the situation and take advantage of demand for cruising in Australia.
According to data from Cruise Lines International Association Australasia, Australia’s cruise industry jumped 20 percent to a record 1 million in 2014, making it the fastest-growing market in the world.