Two mega cruise ships at once equals CONGESTION

Botany resident Dennis Hourn shares his experiences of cruise ship terminal congestion at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre in Singapore.

Based on our experiences and as one who has done more cruises than I can remember, there are many logistical issues I can see in locating a two berth mega cruise ship terminal in Botany Bay.

To give you just one example: Last year we sailed on the Ovation of the Seas and docked at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre in Singapore at the same time as another mega cruise ship.

Despite the state of the art, very modern facilities at Singapore, it was chaotic. Over ten thousand people disembarked from the two ships at 8:30 AM into the terminal, looking to get out as quickly as they could. However the transport system, even in this most modern of cities, struggled to cope.

The Singapore Marina Bay Cruise Centre has been operating for only a few years and it is huge. It covers 30,000 square metres or close to 8 acres. It is serviced by a bus terminus and the nearby Marina Bay Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) rail system. I think it cost close to 700 million dollars and took five years to build.

If you want to look at what they want to put at Yarra Bay you need to look no further than the two berth Marina Bay Cruise Centre. Quite frankly I have to say a terminal of this size would look very much out of place at Yarra Bay.

Anyway the day we arrived there were hundreds of taxis, hire cars and buses attempting to clear the terminal of this massive influx of passengers and crew. It took hours. Surrounding areas were clogged. Thankfully the Singapore cruise terminal is not located in a residential area. And bear in mind the Singapore terminal is better placed than most to handle such large numbers of people with the MRT just 200 metres away.

Ovation of the Seas docked in Wellington New Zealand. Photo: RNZ / Emile Donovan

A terminal in Botany Bay would have little access to public transport, something that has plagued the White Bay Terminal. Just imagine up to 10,000 people trying to get out of Yarra Bay with no or little public transport.

When two ships are berthed at a Botany Bay mega cruise ship terminal, the potential number of passengers and crew wanting to get into the CBD would be similar to our experience in Singapore. Simple maths dictates you would require more than 200 buses or combination of buses, cars and taxis.

The route into the city would be via Southern Cross Drive (M1) – just what Southern Cross Drive doesn’t need in the morning peak – additional traffic on an already clogged transport artery. And just think about the impact of 200 buses cars and taxis on local traffic as they snake their way through Botany, Mascot and Matraville to the M1 in peak hour.

Then all these passengers and crew would need to return to the terminal at the end of their days outings. This means the same number of vehicles would have to do the return trip during the evening peak hour, with the added stress of having to reach the ships before they sail.

There is another issue: I anticipate the commute time from a Botany Bay mega cruise ship terminal to the city could be more than an hour as it would take place in peak time. Adding the time it takes for cruise passengers and crew to actually get onto the buses would leave them but a few hours to enjoy our city.

I would suggest therefore that the cruise ship companies would introduce overnight stays when they dock at Botany Bay. Residents near the proposed terminal would consequently be exposed to noise and particulate pollution as the ships staying overnight generate their own electricity.

In a nutshell, locating a two berth mega cruise ship terminal 16 km from the CBD at Yarra Bay would be a logistical nightmare. It would unnecessarily burden both the immediate area, the M1 and the CBD itself. From this point of view, it makes no sense whatsoever.

The whole thing to me seems like a thought bubble out of control.

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