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Cruise Company Says Dredging Only Choice for Big Ships in Cairns

Posted on May 2, 2016

By Nick Dalton, Cairns Post

DREDGING is the only way Royal Caribbean International will bring its larger cruise ships into the Cairns harbour.

The operator has ruled out putting three of their bigger liners through computer simulations to ascertain whether they can safely traverse the shipping channel.

A company spokeswoman said their liners were quite simply far too big without dredging the shipping channel.

Earlier this week Princess Cruises announced that the 161m long and 77,400-plus tonne Sun Princess, Sea ­Princess and Dawn Princess would no longer have to anchor off Yorkeys Knob and would dock at the Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal from June following new simulator exercises.

The Royal Caribbean spokeswoman said Rhapsody of the Seas currently held the record for largest ship to dock in Cairns and frequently visited the port until 2015, following the tests.

Legend of the Seas is currently our largest ship from the Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises fleet currently able to dock in Cairns,” the spokeswoman said.

“Our remaining Royal ­Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises vessels in Australia are materially bigger than both Rhapsody of the Seas and the Princess vessels.

“For example, Radiance of the Seas is 30m (12 per cent) longer and 13,000 tonnes (17 per cent) and Voyager of the Seas and Explorer of the Seasare 50m (19 per cent) longer and 60,000 tonnes (78 per cent) larger than Sun Princess.

“Substantial widening and deepening of the harbour channel would be necessary for our ships to access the downtown cruise terminal.

“While we always prefer to dock alongside in ports, the scale of such dredging is considerable.

“So our Royal and Celebrity ships will continue to access Cairns by anchoring off Yorkeys Knob and tendering guests to shore.”

P & O Cruises has also decided not to bring bigger ships to the port – including Pacific Jewel and Pacific Dawn –– and says it is happy with the smaller Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden docking at the port.

Ports North, which is preparing a revised Environmental Impact Statement which includes dredging, says it continues to work with operators on simulation tests for bigger vessels.

Ron Crew of Cairns Port Development Inc. said Royal Caribbean’s decision was another example why dredging was required.

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