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NT Cruise Boom

Darwin cruising to a record

NIGEL ADLAM  Dec 16, 2009

Tourist operators are licking their lips as Darwin enjoys a record number of luxury cruise ships this wet season.

The final figures are not confirmed, but there are expected to be at least three more than last year, which itself set a record.

Twenty years ago, it was almost unheard of for a liner to berth in Darwin.

Tourism NT chief executive Maree Tetlow said the number of cruise travellers in the world was increasing and the Territory was reaping the benefits.

Liners generated $35.4 million of direct and indirect expenditure into the NT economy last financial year and supported 161 full-time jobs.

Thirty-six ships stopped in Darwin over the last financial year.

"One of the important benefits of the cruise ship industry in Darwin is that its peak period is during the off-peak tourist season," Ms Tetlow said.

"This assists in bringing important financial injections into the Darwin economy and the tourism industry, particularly retail shopping, during the low season."

The peak cruise season is during the northern hemisphere winter when passengers want to escape the cold.

"Recently we have seen growth in the number of cruise ships offering the experience of circumnavigating around Australia, which have also now placed Darwin on their itinerary," Ms Tetlow said.

"This increase has seen more cruises coming to Darwin in the months of August and September each year, lengthening the seasonality of this industry."

Some Territory tour operators prefer the small boutique ships, such as the Orion, to the huge liners.

"Passengers on the bigger ships all rush back onboard at meal times because their food is included in the cruise price," one operator said.

"But the people on the smaller, more upmarket, ships tend to be much wealthier and don't care if they have to spend money eating out."

Darwin cruising to a record
Cruise ship Nautica docked at Fort Hill Wharf / Photograph by Brad Fleet


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