ON THURSDAY (19 October) Sydney’s first international cruise ship of the season berthed at Sydney, kicking off the 2023-24 summer cruise season.

The upcoming season will see 331 cruise calls into NSW ports, up almost 16% from the previous summer.

This will include a record number of maiden calls that will surpass the 2022-23 summer season, with 12 first-time ships set to make their debut in Sydney Harbour.

The NSW government is further supporting the industry by expanding cruise sailing into Newcastle. Led by Port Authority of NSW, the new agreement with the Port of Newcastle will facilitate the safe transit of cruise ships, create jobs and inject millions of dollars into the Hunter and Central Coast tourism and hospitality sectors over the next decade.

Port Authority of NSW CEO Philip Holliday said: “Our new 10-year licence agreement will see even more cruise liners adding the Hunter to their itineraries, building on the cruise industry success already achieved in Newcastle. Expanding operations in Newcastle will support a regional tourism boom in the decade ahead.”

In the state’s south, the summer cruise season will be the biggest on record, with 41 cruise ships visiting Eden.

State transport minister Jo Haylen said: “Our magnificent ports are the gateway to all NSW has to offer. I’m thrilled cruise season has officially launched on our harbour today, with the first ship arriving from the Northern Hemisphere, bringing almost 3000 passengers and more than 1200 crew into Sydney.”

Cruise Lines International Association managing director Joel Katz said: “Cruising has made an incredible comeback and cruise fans have been heading back to sea in droves. Australia’s cruise industry generated a record $5.63 billion for the national economy in the 2022-23 financial year, supporting 18,225 jobs around the country.”