The sixth cruise ship to visit Wollongong arrived on Sunday March 18th (2018). This time it was the inaugural visit of the Royal Caribbean vessel, Explorer of the Seas.
The Explorer is the twin sister to Voyager of the Seas which has visited twice, and both ships are larger than the also twice around Radiance of the Seas.
(The other ship making up the six was the Norwegian Cruise Lines, Norwegian Star, which made an unscheduled port call following mechanical problems.)
Up at dawn again . . . I can’t see this becoming a natural habit.
Here she comes, photos courtesy of my lovely neighbour, Fran Thornton . . .
They say practice makes perfect, and each time a vessel calls, we manage to improve our process a little on the time before. This time, while loitering in the marshalling yard at Port Kembla, there was time to photograph the ambassadors. The team were waiting for me to allocate each of them to one of the shuttle buses bringing guests and crew from the ship into Wollongong and back again.
The candid shot . . .
The posed shot . . .
What we were waiting for . . .
The Explorer has a double passenger capacity of 3114 plus crew capacity of 1180 –bringing a potential 5020 visitors to the city. This sailing was a little excursion: Sydney-Hobart-Melbourne-Wollongong-Sydney. Given that, the expected demographic was 75% Australian, and the rest a mixture of people from US, NZ, UK and China – which proved to be about right – another first! 🙂
About half the ship’s passengers and crew took advantage of a look around Wollongong, in addition to those who went on shore excursions. As before, these independent visitors went to the beach, foreshore, Botanic Gardens, Nan Tien Temple, Harley Bike/Trike rides and so on (and they shopped 🙂 ).
The maker’s market that greeted them on arrival at the Arts Precinct was even bigger than before . . .
Note the green and gold flag on the first stand? These were designed by my brother. He envisioned they would be popular for sporting events and other “Aussie” celebrations. Due to ill-health, he has donated his entire stock for sale, with all proceeds to go to the Cancer Council of NSW. If you are local and interested in buying anything, they are on sale at the iHub Tourist Office in Wollongong. The range includes 3’x2′ flags, flag wavers, fridge magnets, bumper stickers, and complimentary temporary tattoos.
Loads more was on offer on the welcoming green. Aboriginal artefacts, jewellery, photographs, wood-turnings, lavender goods, ladies craft – even the University of Wollongong Alumni bookshop had a stand.
There was various entertainment throughout the day. All great music and dancing, but I had to wait until things slowed down before I could capture any of it.
A personal favourite,The Con Artists, from the Wollongong Conservatorium of Music
A group of ten ladies had a fabulous idea. They had pre-booked a stretch limo to take them on their own personal day-trip complete with on-board bubbles. Economical!
March is officially autumn, yet the day was extremely hot, reaching a top temp of around 39’c (102f). The only mercy was low humidity due to the weather being caused by warm air currents from the dry inland. Despite our high spirits, everyone – volunteers and visitors – were flagging by mid-afternoon.
The ship visit also co-incided with ‘The Peoplecare triTheGong triathlon festival‘, so all-in-all it was a busy day in Wollongong. We managed to attend the sail-away function, but staggered home before the vessel actually sailed.