History of Sydney Harbour Cruise Terminal

The popularity of cruising has increased exponentially since the turn of the 21st century and is only due to get even even more popular.  So the next time you are going on a cruise and need transportation to Circular Quay or White Bay please don’t hesitate to give Shire Shuttle Bus a call!

The location of the Sydney Harbour cruise terminal has served as a commercial shipping location since the 1790s. Its current structural incarnation and purpose as a particular cruise/passenger arrival terminal dates back to 1958, with some structural adjustments being made along the way.

During the 19th century, the port on the western end of Sydney Harbour (the terminal’s current site) was used primarily for commercial shipping. Warehouses were constructed alongside the wharf near Argyle Cut in around 1900.

The site also served as a terminal for passenger arrivals, and received 20,000-30,000 passengers annually during the early 20th century.

The late 1940s was a period of a heavy increase in immigration, and an increased demand in cruise shipping. This prompted the Port Authority to construct a new and improved shipping terminal on the site. The warehouse buildings were demolished as the site would no longer serve as a trading site for produce, and to make room for the construction of the new site.

The new passenger terminal was completed in 1958.

The first passenger liner to arrive at the Cruise Terminal was the SS Oriana, on its maiden voyage, carrying 20,000 passengers from England.

By 1962, the amount of passengers arriving at the cruise terminal numbered at 160,000, quadrupling from the 1940 figure of 30,000.

A decline in the arrival of persons by ship during the 1970s and 80s (and a coincidental increase in aerial arrivals) saw the Cruise Terminal fall into structural disarray. In 1983, the state government approved a significant refurbishment to the site, inspired by the ideas of Peter Tonkin. A series of retail outlets and restaurants were established at the Terminal, and some nearby heritage sites were given a facelift.

By the end of the 1980s, the site’s former use as a working port for over 150 years was now completely unapparent, and Circular Quay’s transformation into a waterfront promenade and tourist attraction was now virtually complete.

In 1987, the cruise terminal received an unlikely visitor, one of the world’s largest oil tankers periodically birthed at the site due to a lack of space at Darling Harbour. The ship’s immense breadth caused a little commotion with ferry traffic in the harbour, and great awe among visitors.

The 1990s and 2000s saw an immense increase in consumer demand for recreational cruises, and thus further refurbishments were underwent in accordance to this new market activity. From 2002 to 2008, cruise ship arrivals at the harbour had increased by 18%. By 2014-15, 280 ships had arrived in the harbour, up from 120 only five years prior.

Until the 2010s, Sydney had a secondary cruise terminal, Wharf 8 at Darling Harbour, near the King Street Wharf complex. However, due to the establishment of the new Barangaroo reserve, Wharf 8 was shut down in 2012.

In accordance to an increased demand for cruise ships in the mid 2010s, it was an imperative for Sydney to have a second passenger terminal. In 2013, the new secondary passenger terminal opened, White Bay Overseas Terminal, at Balmain East. As with the main Circular Quay terminal and the defunct Wharf 8, White Bay is also a former industrial port. White Bay only receives patronage when the primary terminal at Circular Quay is occupied.

Sydney has been visited by many prominent cruise ships in its history, and has been a popular destination with many prominent cruising companies.

Some of the cruising companies that are servicing Sydney Harbour at the present include:

  1. P&O Cruises

  2. Carnival Cruises

  3. Norwegian Cruise Line

  4. Princess Cruises

  5. Caribbean Cruises

  6. Celebrity Cruises

………….Along with many others!

Some of the regular ships that visit Sydney include:

  1. Pacific Dawn

  2. Norwegian Star (a frequent visitor for 20+ years)

  3. Voyager of the Seas

  4. Carnival Legend

  5. Radiance of the Seas

  6. Sun Princess

  7. Pacific Explorer

  8. Pacific Eden

  9. Carnival Victory

  10. Carnival Spirit

  11. Enchantment Of The Seas

  12. Explorer of the Seas

  13. Emerald Princess

  14. Freedom of the Seas

  15. Grand Princess

Like to know what some of the more popular destinations for cruising from Sydney are?

These include:

  1. Bermuda

  2. Fiji

  3. New Zealand

  4. The Maldives

  5. The Mediterranean Coastlines

  6. The Panama Canal

  7. The Philippines

  8. Hawaii

  9. Miami, Florida

  10. Tasmania

  11. Vanuatu

  12. Montego Bay Jamaica

  13. Alaska

  14. Trinidad and Tobago

  15. Great Barrier Reef

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