Blue skies and hot weather greeted Voyager of the Seas on a perfect morning in Wollongong on Wednesday.
It was a warm welcome for the Royal Caribbean mega-liner’s second visit in three weeks.
And the man most instrumental in bringing the cruise industry to the Illawarra met Voyager out to sea to make sure the 3900 passengers and 1200 crew knew the third cruise ship visit to Wollongong in as many months was just as important as the first.
The city is pushing for Port Kembla to become a turnaround port and #cruisewollongong chair Cr Leigh Colacino knows just how important it is for him, the volunteer ambassadors in their blue shirts and all residents and businesses people to make all the visitors feel welcome.
Many passengers started hopping on buses for day tours at 8am while thousands took a shuttle into the Arts Precinct to shop, dine and visit the beach. Five members of the management were taken on a day trip to Bald Hill, Symbio Wildlife Park and The Meatery to learn more about the destination. Crew member Krisztian Attila Pan, 23, of Hungary said he was so impressed he wants to come back and stay for a while.
“I love Wollongong so much. The people are so amazing. You are so nice here and so down to earth. I would like to come and study here at your university. I just love it here. When I was small I always wanted to have a picture with a kangaroo. I got a lot today. It was so much fun,” he said.
Voyager shore-leave team member Daniel Karakochok said he will definitely be promoting Symbio as a great option to visit from now on.
Cr Colacino said now Wollongong had cruise lines interested it was important to help those on board sell the city as a day visit destination. “We need make sure that the crew understand exactly how Wollongong works. There is nowhere else in the world like Wollongong. That is its appeal.”
It is also why so many seasoned cruise ship travellers have described their Wollongong visit as their best ever day of cruising.
Mike and Teresa Duncan, of Gosford, took a day tour to Nan Tien Temple after seeing Wollongong from a different perspective. They grew up in Newcastle and said it was great to see such an active working port and the view of the city and the Illawarra Escarpment was magnificent from their balcony sailing in.
“I love Wollongong,” Mr Duncan said.
“I am a big fan of the escarpment. It is beautiful territory and has great beaches. It is a typically nice Wollongong summer day.”