Luxury cruise ship Explorer of the Seas will be largest cruise ship to visit Newcastle

IT’S not the longest, but it’s certainly the biggest.

In February 2019 the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Explorer of Seas will make its two visits to Newcastle, carrying some 3,900 passengers each time.

It will make it the largest cruise ship – in tonnage, and passenger numbers – to visit the city.

While the 317-metre Celebrity Solstice, which first visited in 2014, is still the longest luxury cruise ship to dock in Newcastle – by about five metres – the 138,000 tonne Explorer is heavier by about 16,000 tonnes, and can carry 1100 more passengers. 

Billed by its parent company Royal Caribbean as the second largest cruise ship in Australia, its arrival is only possible thanks to the state and federal government’s infamous joint $800,000 bollard fund.

The bollards – 12 steel piles, each about 14-metres long, driven into Newcastle’s channel berth – are the first stage of the new $13.5 million cruise ship terminal in Newcastle due to be completed by mid-next year.

Planning Minister Anthony Roberts was in Newcastle on Thursday to inspect the bollards, he said the new terminal was “a key part of NSW Government’s program to revitalise Newcastle and will contribute around $26.7 million to the local economy and an additional 76 jobs through construction and flow on effects”.

The luxury cruise ship – a room with a balcony on a nine night South Pacific cruise from Sydney will set you back some $1,500 dollars per person – boasts a rock wall overlooking the sea, a 9,623 square foot casino and some 15 bars, clubs and lounges, but tourism operators in the Hunter will be hoping they can entice passengers on shore.

The industry was worth about $11 million to the Hunter’s economy in 2016, but with 18 cruise ships expected between February and November this year that figure is expected to continue to grow.

Adam Armstrong, the managing director of Royal Caribbean in Australia and New Zealand said the company was “delighted to be working closely with the Port of Newcastle as it enters a new era of mega cruise ship travel”.

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