More than 2900 passengers and crew on-board the Sea Princess will be chomping at the bit to get ashore in Airlie Beach after bad weather thwarted shore excursions earlier this month in Cairns and Port Douglass.
The largest ship to attempt a docking at the Port of Cairns this month, the Sea Princess made three attempts to dock before high seas and winds forced the skipper to abandon further attempts.
Last Tuesday high seas in the Whitsundays postponed all shore excursions.
Sailing south today the ship will arrive in the Whitsundays in time to enable the first passengers to alight at Abell Point Marina from 7.30am Friday.
Coordinator of the Airlie Beach Cruise Ship Ambassadors Brian Richardson and his team will be at the marina tomorrow to welcome the passengers ashore.
“This will be their first change to get off the ship, stretch their legs and have a look around the place,” he said.
Mr Richardson said in 2016 P&O Cruises Australia estimated the each passenger on average spent $150 on tours, food and shore activities.
The Whitsundays will welcome passengers from 55 cruise ships this year.
The most sought after commodity for passengers on shore leave is a good cup of coffee, Mr Richardson said.
Mr Richardson said he was not sure about the quality of cruise ship baristas, but he did say “we have got 30 or 40 coffee shops slash restaurants in town and everyone of them does a good cup of coffee”.
Most tours and activities for passengers looking to get the most out of the Whitsundays are already pre-booked, Mr Richardson said.
Popular things to do included everything from a trip to the Proserpine Museum to a close encounter with a croc on the Proserpine River and from a Great Barrier Reef experience to an amphibious adventure onboard the Duck Bus.
“Usually between 500-600 people go on various tours,” Mr Richardson said.
“A lot of the rest stay in town and spend time a the markets or the lagoon and just wandering up and down the street relaxing.”
Chief executive officer of Tourism Whitsunday Craig Turner said the Whitsundays offers one of the best natural harbours in Queensland.
“(And) we are looking forward to seeing the passengers arrive and looking forward to showing the visitors how great the Whitsundays is and why we love it so much,” he said.
The Airlie Beach Cruise Ship Ambassadors began welcoming passengers to the Whitsundays in 2004.
Mr Richardson the organisation was all about promoting the region.
“We answer questions about the Whitsunday and give the passengers as much information as we can,” he said.
Aside from where to get a good coffee in Airlie Beach Mr Richardson said the question he was asked the most was how people can get back to the Whitsundays?
The question “is it possible to drive to Hamilton Island?” had to rank as one of the strangest questions Mr Richardson had ever been asked.
Source: Whitsunday Times.