02 Nov 2022

Shipshape return of cruise to Port Lincoln

The first cruise ship to Port Lincoln in more than two and a half years arrives today, signalling the restart of a once $145 million sector of the state’s visitor economy.

It is one of a record-breaking 104 cruise visits scheduled for South Australia in 2022/23, topping the 82 visits made in what was a ‘bumper season’ in 2018/19.

It follows the first cruise into Adelaide yesterday of the same ship, the P&O Pacific Explorer, and the first cruise into Kangaroo Island last month, when nearly 1,600 passengers disembarked the Princess Cruises’ Coral Princess to explore the region and spend in the local community.

The first cruise ship to Port Lincoln since early 2020, the P&O Pacific Explorer, arrives from Adelaide this morning as part of a 4-night ‘Southern Getaway’ voyage, with nearly 1,600 passengers and more than 800 crew.

It is one of 12 cruise visits scheduled for Port Lincoln through to April 2023, with expedition cruises making additional visits to smaller ports and anchorages around the Eyre Peninsula, including Coffin Bay, Cape Donington, Flinders Island, and Boston Island.

Other cruise ships scheduled for Port Lincoln this season include Princess Cruises’ Grand Princess, with up to 2,590 passengers and 1,100 crew; and Holland America’s Noordam, carrying up to 1,916 passengers and 800 crew.

Minister for Tourism Zoe Bettison said it is “plain sailing” for the return of cruising to South Australia, a sector that provides a valuable boost to regional economies.

“Pre pandemic, cruise was worth $145 million to our state – it brings international tourists who will spend in regional South Australia, and it means more work for tourism operators in the regions like the Eyre Peninsula,” Minister Bettison said.

“The community of Port Lincoln has been eagerly awaiting the return of cruise ships, so today is an exciting day – with Pacific Explorer passengers booked on tours with local operators to experience the very best of the region.

“We saw how successful the first cruise to Kangaroo Island was last month, with nearly 1,600 passengers getting off to explore the island and spend in the local economy – the community welcomed the visit with open arms.

“Today, we’re full speed into the season which will bring 12 cruise ships to Port Lincoln, as part of a record-high 104 visits across South Australia.”

Carnival Australia and P&O Cruises Australia President, Marguerite Fitzgerald said: “We are in the process of rebuilding the $5 billion cruise industry, and South Australia, with its wonderful destinations, is again a big part of that story of renewal.

“Every cruise destination is important to us, and we know that Port Lincoln is one of the most popular with our guests. So, it is great to know that, as Pacific Explorer begins the first of its two homeported seasons in Adelaide, Port Lincoln is also sharing in the opportunity that this involves. South Australia is geographically blessed with a major capital city port with Adelaide and regional destinations such as Port Lincoln and Kangaroo Island that add to the cruise experience for our guests.”

Eyre Peninsula regional tourism chair Ryan Viney said the return of international cruise to the Eyre Peninsula is “a really positive sign” for the region’s tourism recovery and a sector which experienced significant disruption over the past couple of years.

“Cruise ships strengthen tourism and hospitality, bringing in thousands of visitors who book tours and experiences, and spend in local businesses – helping grow our visitor economy on the Eyre Peninsula,” he said.

“We look forward to welcoming the Pacific Explorer and its guests to our region, in addition to subsequent cruise visits booked for Port Lincoln through until March next year.”

Naomi Blacker, Manager of Economic Development and Tourism at the City of Port Lincoln said the Council is “delighted” to welcome cruising back to Port Lincoln.

“Our cruise team is very well prepared for the Pacific Explorer, and we look forward to activating our new cruise terminal at Brennan’s Jetty and showcasing Port Lincoln and the southern Eyre Peninsula to its passengers,” she said.

“We recognise the significant benefits of cruising with passengers and crew supporting our business and tour operators when here but also importantly, providing positive word of mouth and repeat visitation in the months and years to come.”

The return of such a strong summer cruise season is music to the ears of local suppliers including South Australian tour operator Peter Crettenden whose Swagabout Tours specialises in tours of his hometown, Port Lincoln, and is taking busloads of Pacific Explorer passengers to see the sights today.

After a long hiatus, Mr Crettenden is looking forward to the return of cruise ships, which brings in thousands of potential customers – and provides a huge boost to his business.

“I am very pleased to see the ships back and to hear there are a record number of visits booked for South Australia this cruise season.

“Today, I’m running two half-day Swagabout tours, taking passengers to see the spectacular bays and coastline around Port Lincoln. From Fishery Bay to Whaler’s Way Sanctuary, Cape Wiles to Winter Hill Lookout – it’s all part of the ‘rugged coastal discovery tour’ and there’s no better way to experience one of the best parts of the state.”