Exmouth cruise ship no-shows a business blow

Shannon BeattiePilbara News
The Seven Seas Mariner, one of the many cruise ships to cancel their landing in Exmouth.
Camera IconThe Seven Seas Mariner, one of the many cruise ships to cancel their landing in Exmouth. Credit: Seascanner

A new survey has found Exmouth is losing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the lucrative cruise ship industry because the State Government has failed to provide a solution that guarantees passengers can disembark regardless of weather conditions.

Currently, cruise ships anchor off the marina and use tenders to bring passengers to shore. But wind and swell often made disembarking impossible. The survey, commissioned by the Shire of Exmouth, found cancelled cruise visits cost the local business community a total of $150,000 in the 2018-19 cruise season.

The State Government has spent $3.25 million upgrading the Fremantle Passenger Terminal and $7 million to upgrade Broome Port for the cruise industry but an Exmouth solution is nowhere in sight, despite 50 per cent of cruise ship arrivals last season being cancelled.

Shire of Exmouth chief executive Cameron Woods said it was time everyone stopped talking about the problem and prioritised a solution.

“If Government wants businesses to continue to invest in servicing the cruise market, they need to provide confidence that a short-term solution has been identified that will allow passengers to disembark regardless of the wind,” he said.

A State Government spokesman said the challenges and costs associated with improving the cruise ship experience at Exmouth were different to Fremantle and Broome.

“These locations already have significant infrastructure and facilities to cater for large ships including cruise ships,” he said.

“There is no port at Exmouth or any maritime infrastructure able to accommodate larger vessels including no wharf or dredged channel.”

In a report, commissioned by the Gascoyne Development Commission and released in October 2014, it was stated the major hurdle for establishing the cruise industry in Exmouth was the berthing facilities.

Mr Woods said nearly five years later no progress had been made.

The Shire is investigating the use of the Navy Pier as an interim solution with the Department of Defence but without support from the State Government, that looks unlikely.

DoD was unable to provide a response by the time of print.

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