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PACIFIC Explorer departed Sydney on Tuesday on a cruise – the first cruise to depart from the east coast in more than two years. The vessel is headed for Brisbane on a four-night round-trip.

Port Authority of NSW CEO Captain Philip Holliday said everything is pointing to a positive restart for cruise with more than 40 different ships from 25 cruise lines now scheduled to make more than 300 calls in New South Wales, including some multi-day stays, through the next financial year.

“This is far closer to pre-pandemic figures than expected so it is a remarkable bounce back in the cruising market, particularly domestic cruises, and demonstrates Australians are keen to get back out on the water for their next holiday,” Mr Holliday said.

“Our people here at Port Authority including our marine pilots, cruise terminal workers and our on-water crews have been preparing for this time and are ready and raring to go.”

NSW transport minister David Elliott said with one in 17 Australians having cruised before the pandemic, it is not unexpected that up to a million passengers are expected to cruise over the 2022-23 season ahead.

“Cruise is an economic powerhouse because its impacts are felt from the farm gate, through our freight and supply chains all the way to our tourism destinations – it generates jobs far beyond the ship, boosts regional economies and supports farming communities,” Mr Elliott said.

“Prior to the pandemic, the cruise industry contributed an estimated $3.3 billion total expenditure to the NSW economy and contributed more than 11,000 jobs to the whole of NSW in 2018-19. In 2017-18, the industry contributed around $1.54 billion to the Sydney economy that year.”

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President of Carnival Australia and P&O Cruises Australia Marguerite Fitzgerald said Pacific Explorer’s cruise from Sydney is an emotional moment in time for so many people who have looked forward to the resumption of cruise operations in Australia and the rebirth of the $5 billion a year Australian cruise industry.

“We thank Minister Elliott and the NSW government for their enthusiastic support of the restart of cruising,” she said.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) managing director Australasia Joel Katz said the Australian cruise community could now begin rebuilding an industry.

“With extensive new health protocols in place, Australia has now joined the rest of the world in a careful resumption of cruise operations,” Mr Katz said.

“We now have an opportunity to revive a sector that previously supported more than 18,000 jobs around Australia.

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