Luxury cruise liner Queen Mary 2 forced to berth at industrial dock

The Queen Mary 2 at Webb Dock.
The Queen Mary 2 at Webb Dock. Photo: Pat Scala

If you think parking problems are bad on Melbourne’s streets, wait until you get on to Port Phillip Bay.

The luxury Cunard ship Queen Mary 2, on which passengers pay up to $33,000 for a 119-day world voyage, was bumped from Station Pier on Wednesday and had to tie up at heavily industrialised Webb Dock among cranes and cargo containers.

There was no space for the 345-metre Queen Mary 2 at the historic Station Pier where passenger ships usually dock because it was already taken up by the 315-metre Celebrity Solstice.

A passer-by takes a photo of Queen Mary 2 at Webb Dock.
A passer-by takes a photo of Queen Mary 2 at Webb Dock. Photo: Pat Scala

‘‘It’s not an ideal situation but we are also satisfied that the authorities in Melbourne did as much as they could to achieve a decent outcome for our passengers,’’ said David Jones, a spokesman for Carnival Australia which represents Cunard here.

‘‘Sydney has capacity issues for big ships and it is interesting to see the first evidence of that in Melbourne today. It could be a sign of the times. With cruise ships getting bigger this may not be an unprecedented event, with two large ships from different cruise organisations wanting to berth at the same time.’’

Port of Melbourne Corporation chief executive officer Nick Easy said he was not aware of any other cruise ship ever getting bumped to Webb Dock.

The Queen Mary 2 would usually expect to dock at Station Pier but was bumped as the space was taken up by another cruise liner, Celebrity Solstice.
The Queen Mary 2 would usually expect to dock at Station Pier but was bumped as the space was taken up by another cruise liner, Celebrity Solstice. Photo: Pat Scala

‘‘It is unusual for this to happen,’’ he said.

‘‘There are no dedicated passenger facilities there but we have put in place customs, quarantine, transport and baggage handling. The normal services that support any cruise vessel coming into Melbourne have been provided at Webb Dock today.

‘‘We believe there is adequate capacity (for cruise ships in Melbourne). What we are seeing today is an usual set of circumstances.’’

Queen Mary 2, with a gross registered tonnage of 151,400, is the largest ocean liner to cruise Australian waters while the 122,000-tonne Celebrity Solstice is the third-largest ship to visit local waters.

The one-day visit of the big liners will bring an estimated $1 million in economic benefit to Melbourne, according to Brett Jardine, the Australasia general manager of the Cruise Lines International Association.

He said the ships delivered 5000 cruise passengers to the city, many going on tours and shopping excursions.

“Melbourne is in the midst of a bumper cruise season which will see 24 ships make 70 calls between October 2013 and April 2014, including two visits from Queen Mary 2 and a total of six calls by Celebrity Solstice,” he said.

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