The city was not on the original itinerary when they booked their Norwegian Star cruise but they were not disappointed when they arrived.
From the moment they saw Wollongong on the horizon just after dawn Nancy Crawley and Christine Giordano were impressed with the city’s stunning beauty.
The live at Rhode Island, known for sandy shores and seaside colonial towns, and they loved everything about Wollongong. They had never heard of it before and already had the pronunciation down pat because of local entertainer Jennifer Gray. They were interested in where the name came from and were impressed by the warm welcome and wonderful scenery as they strolled along the Blue Mile.
“It is quite a place with beautiful beaches. And your port is very clean, neat and organised,” Mrs Crawley said.
Their first impression was of a modern city between green mountains and golden sand. “The people, the mountains and the beaches...it is all a nice surprise,” Mrs Giordano said.
Gary Moore, who runs a catering business in Scotland's oldest inhabited house, is from a region that relies on tourism and knows its importance to a regional economy. He prefers to visit places like Wollongong rather than larger cities and encouraged local businesses to set up market stalls for future visits. He ranked Wollongong alongside the Bay of Islands as a cruise ship destination. “People here are very helpful and there are a lot of volunteers on the streets. When you come to a smaller place like this it is more about exploring Australia”.
Councillor Leigh Colacino said Thursday was another important day in the city’s quest to become a cruise ship destination and turnaround port. “When you look at the smorgasbord of destinations the world offers to tourists, it is the flavours of Wollongong that set it apart from the rest. Our people, our beaches and escarpment, our shopping precincts and restaurants have a taste all of their own. What the visit today, by Norwegian Star, shows is that the whole Illawarra region is a port of call that people want to put on their menu of great destinations. Wollongong offers a unique experience.There is nowhere else in the world like The Gong”.
Cr Colacino said having a second cruise ship company visit the city is another giant step forward. Particularly from an global perspective given Norwegian Star’s large number of international travelers.