Melbourne’s cruise ship season starts on 27 October when the Noordam berths at Station Pier. Over almost the next eight months there will be 83 other liner visits the pier.
As the Noordam is a regular visitor, you will not expect the chief of its owner, Holland America Line, to send a message to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull thanking Australians for their welcome.
But this is what the chairman and president of the Canadian Pacific Rail Company, Sir Edward Beatty, did when the world’s then arguably grandest liner, the Empress of Britain, left Melbourne in 1938. He told Prime Minister Joe Lyons: “We have been much impressed by the reception given to the Empress of Britain by the Australian people and I desire to convey thanks through you for the cordiality and generosity displayed on the occasion of the liner’s visit to Sydney and Melbourne”. (1)
The Argus on 7 April 1938 reported that “250,000 people went to Port Melbourne yesterday to see the Empress of Britain (42,500 tons), which is by far the largest liner ever to enter Australian waters”. (2)
Cruise Ship Season 2015/16
On the first day of this season, Port’s official cruise ship greeters, wearing bright blue T-shirts, will contend with some 1900 passengers. Organised by Inner South Community Health Service, these Waterfront Welcomers will be able to tell visitors about the history of Port Melbourne and, if they not venturing too far, some of the sites and facilities in the immediate area. This will please local traders.
A study released late last year found that cruise passengers spent more than $700 million across Australia in 2013. It showed that Sydney, Fremantle and Melbourne topped the list in terms of highest daily spend for international passengers per-cruise ($762, $669 and $612 respectively).
Melburnians will see the just refurbished Golden Princess, which carries 2600 passengers and 1100 crew. It is 290m long, and is 109,000 gross tonnes.
She will be a regular to the port, reflecting increasing demand for cruises in local waters. Operator Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry said: “Australia is the world’s fastest growing cruise market, so as the biggest cruise operator Down Under we’re delighted to be expanding our local presence even further”.
For cruise ship watchers and photographers, the “cherry on the top” will be the arrival of the super luxury Queen Victoria, gracing us for one day on 6 March.
(3) On 28 October 1940, Empress of Britain was torpedoed in the Atlantic by U-32 and sank about 110kms off County Donegal, Northern Ireland. (4)
(1) 1938 ‘EMPRESS OF BRITAIN’S VISIT.’,Advocate (Burnie, Tas. : 1890 – 1954), 26 April, p. 10, viewed 15 October, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article68421119
(2) 1938 ‘250,000 GREET HUGE LINER.’, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), 7 April, p. 1, viewed 15 October, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11170093
(3) The Sinking of the Empress of Brtain 28 October 1940 http://blog.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/2013/10/25/empress-britain/