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The big ships are coming…

SUSAN Bonner, regional vice president of Royal Caribbean Cruises, has issued a plea for the Australian cruise sector to prepare for what she described as “the big ship challenge,” in order to allow ever-larger vessels to homeport locally in the future.

Bonner was one of the keynote speakers at this week’s Australian Cruise Association (ACA) conference in Broome, and told delegates this morning that other competing destinations are growing their infrastructure to manage disruption brought by ships like the Oasis-class vessels which have an estimated 5,000 lower berths.

She said the industry needed to work collaboratively, thinking about how destinations could manage the influx of large numbers of cruise guests and maintain passenger satisfaction.

Bonner noted that deployment decisions were made 3-4 years in advance, and urged the industry to ensure that Australasia did not miss out on the huge benefits the large ships could bring, hinting that the local market was definitely on the radar for vessels like Symphony of the Seas.

Carnival Australia president and CLIA chairman Sture Myrmell also spoke in Broome today, noting the massive opportunity of cruise – not only for domestic tourism but also to attract more visitors from overseas.

He highlighted the sustainability of cruising, which despite its recent rapid growth has significant room to grow and is still much smaller globally than some individual destinations such as Orlando, Paris or New York.