Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cruising boom brings early gift for Christmas Island

Red crabs are one of a number of species under threat on the island, according to a report. (Federal Environment Department: Max Orchard)

Australia’s largest cruising company, Carnival Australia, today welcomed a decision by the Federal Government to invest $3.5 million in improving mooring facilities on Christmas Island – a move that will see the first ever cruise ship visit the island at the end of this year.

P&O Cruises’ Pacific Sun, which is owned and operated by Carnival Australia, will call at Christmas Island on December 23.

It will be the first of four visits by Pacific Sun between December this year and February 2011, delivering a total of about 7,600 passengers over this period.

Ann Sherry, Chief Executive Officer of Carnival Australia, said the Federal Government’s decision to invest in the mooring and passenger landing facilities to accommodate cruise ships would support the development of Christmas Island’s tourism industry.

“P&O Cruises Pacific Sun will be the first ever cruise ship to visit Christmas Island when she makes her scheduled call just before Christmas this year,” Ms Sherry said.

“This is a significant step for Christmas Island because it creates an opportunity for the island to develop its tourism industry and deliver economic benefit for its community.

“Christmas Island’s unique wildlife, including the annual migration of the red crabs, and natural features makes it an appealing holiday destination for Australians.

“We have had a positive reception from the Christmas Island community who are keen to see tourism develop in a way that meets their expectations and protects the island’s natural features.”

Carnival Australia – through its Australian-based brands P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises – has been at the forefront of the industry in opening new destinations for cruise shipping.

Cruising is the fastest growing segment of tourism. The industry has grown an average of 18% a year for the past six years and is expected to contribute about $1 billion to the Australian economy this year alone.

“We are keen to open new cruise destinations around Australia, including in key regional areas, to bring economic benefit outside major ports as well as expand our holiday offering to the growing number of Australians choosing to take a cruise holiday,” Ms Sherry said.

Passengers onboard Pacific Sun will have the chance to explore the island’s natural beauty independently or through organised tours. Activities on offer are likely to include scuba diving, nature walks, bird watching, snorkeling or witnessing the famous red crab migration.

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