GUESTS from the visiting cruise ship The World will step ashore at Port of Airlie this Saturday, marking a landmark moment for the facility.
Port of Airlie general manager Andrew Forster said tenders from the 196-metre-long resort ship would dock on F arm directly in front of Denman Cellars, giving guests immediate access to the marina’s retailers and the township of Airlie Beach.
Mr Forster said The World was a boutique cruise ship, different from others in that it is actually a private residential yacht.
“The owners, I believe, actually set the agenda for where they want to go and what they want to do,” he said.
“The World’s been to Airlie Beach before, but that’s what makes this a little bit different – the owners of the apartments on the boat must have really enjoyed it here and asked to come back, so it’s a big feather in the cap for Airlie Beach.”
Mr Forster conceded this was also a coup for the Port of Airlie which is looking forward to the dawning of a new era with the opening of the new Cruise Whitsundays ferry terminal in August this year.
“And in the future, we would obviously imagine more and more of these cruise ships visiting could use this as a point of entry to the region,” he said.
Mr Forster said Port of Airlie’s obvious draw cards were its central location and ease of access to town, via the newly completed boardwalk.
“And the port now looks wonderful with all we’ve done to it, so it’s a natural progression to start looking at bringing more of these here,” he said.
Retailers at the marina are looking forward to the visit too, with Denman Cellars’ co-owner Ben Hayman describing it as an “awesome” opportunity.
“It’s good for Port of Airlie because it brings traffic and a lot of people that we don’t usually get – we had a cruise boat in today (Tuesday) and not one person came down this far,” he said.
The World is one of three cruise ships to visit Airlie this week with Sea Princess calling in on Tuesday and Pacific Dawn in next Monday.
Abell Point Marina owner Paul Darrouzet said it was encouraging to see increasing cruise ship business coming into the Whitsundays including the recent announcement that Legend of the Seas would make Brisbane their home port from 2015.
“Abell Point Marina will continue to bolster already existing relationships with cruising shipping agencies and inbound tour agents to maintain cruise ship visitors through the revitalised Abell Point Marina precinct into the extended future,” he said.