Tomorrow morning Airlie Beach will welcome its first cruise ship since Cyclone Debbie paid a visit on March 28.
Pacific Dawn’s roughly 2000 passengers will disembark through the Abell Point Marina.
And that’s not all.
On Friday about 2500 passengers from the cruise ship Radiance of the Sea will come into town via the Port of Airlie passenger terminal and Pacific Dawn will be back in town on Monday, April 17.
Ann Sherry AO, the executive chairwoman of Carnival Australia, was in the Whitsundays yesterday alongside Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and State Tourism Minister Kate Jones ensuring everything was ready for Thursday’s visit.
“We have confidence in this region – and it’s been amazing arriving today to see the streets full of people and the shops open,” she said.
Ms Sherry said Carnival had been assuring Pacific Dawn’s passengers “and talking to them about what to expect so that they understand that we’re part of the rebuild and resilience story”.
“For the month of April we’ll bring 6000 people into Airlie Beach and to distribute around the region – and that really is a sign we believe everything is ready,” she said.
“We’re encouraging people to come back to the region as well and we want to support a region that’s been really good for us.
“We’ve been able to bring tens of thousands of people here over the last few years and… we want people to continue to have that great experience.
“On Thursday we’re going to have a grand celebration as we arrive and announce I guess that we’re back in with you guys as well.
“I’ve been amazed at how much energy there is, how much is open and in fact how fantastic it looks.
“I think in a couple of weeks, you’ll probably wonder whether there’s ever been a cyclone here.
“I’m sure people locally will remember that but for people visiting, it’s all about the touch, it’s all about the look and it’s about the ability to get out and have a look and I’m confident that we’ll be able to deliver that for all the people arriving on the ships.”
Brian Richardson, who helps coordinate the army of volunteers who welcome cruise ship passengers to Airlie Beach, said the local volunteers were “hot to trot”.
“There’s obviously a few volunteers who can’t make it for various reasons – one of them had his house destroyed and fell down and broke his hip. But we’ve got a good crew – and the vast majority are really looking forward to it – not just getting the cruise ships back in, but we’re a very social group and we’re looking forward to catching up with people we’re friendly with especially after what we’ve been through in the last few weeks,” he said.
On Sunday April 23, Voyager of the Seas will call into Airlie Beach bringing a potential 3800 passengers.
Pacific Dawn will be back again four days after that on April 27.
Source: Whitsunday Times.