Darwin Harbour Cullen Bay

Darwin: Australia’s Next Home-Port?

Posted March 9th, 2012

Tourism managers have touted the Top End as an ideal hub for cruises to Asia. Tony Clementson, General Manager of Tourism Top End, has called for cruise lines to base a ship in Darwin as a potential home-port for "more exotic" cruising from northern Australia.

"In my opinion, Australia to Asia is the next obvious emerging cruise route," he said in a recent interview. "If a ship was based in Darwin, it could do seven-day sailings to Asia and people could fly back from Singapore, Indonesia or Manila."

Darwin City

Darwin could also be used as an embarkation or disembarkation point for shorter sectors of Australia circumnavigations "because not everyone wants to cruise for 17 days", he said. "It would suit time-poor people to end or begin here, so they could do an east coast or west coast cruise without going all the way around the country."

Clementson said he has had informal discussions with the management of Royal Caribbean, and Tourism NT was "spreading the message of Darwin" at the upcoming Seatrade cruise conference in Miami.

Celebrity Cruises is also planning a Singapore-Sydney repositioning cruise via Darwin in November, "so it's already happening in a way," Clementson said. "But my vision is to see Darwin evolve into a small home-port for people who want to travel to exotic destinations, both for outbound Australian passengers and inbound passengers coming here from Europe or the US."

Darwin City

The tropical city, which opened a new cruise terminal in 2008, has welcomed 13 ships to its shores so far this year, including maiden calls by the Queen Mary 2, Celebrity Century and Zaandam, as well as regular visitors such as Diamond Princess and Rhapsody of the Seas. More than 50 vessels are scheduled to visit in 2012.

"Many passengers have enjoyed the city of Darwin and have taken up trips down the track to Litchfield National Park and attractions like jumping crocodiles on the Adelaide River, and a few adventure-seekers have chartered light aircraft to visit Kakadu," Clementson said. "We also have warm climatic conditions that are conducive to cruising and being out on deck, so maybe it is time for our great cruise line leaders to consider Darwin as the Caribbean of the north (of Australia)."

Source: Cruise Weekly, Tuesday 6 March 2012

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