Situated on one of the most beautiful and scenic harbours in Australia, Port Arthur is becoming a popular destination for cruise ships in its own right. The Historic Site welcomed 900 crew and 1950 passengers aboard the Dawn Princess today.
The deep-water harbour is more than sufficient to provide ships like the Dawn Princess which weighs 77 500 tons and is 261 metres in length with a safe anchorage close to the Site.
Port Arthur Historic Site CEO Stephen Large says that cruise shipping is developing as a significant contributor to visitation to the Historic Site, with specific marketing activities undertaken to attract vessels to include Port Arthur in their itineraries.”
“We’ve hosted passengers from vessels docked in Hobart who take a day trip to the Site for many years,” he said. “In recent years, more and more vessels are actually spending a day at Port Arthur on their way to or from Hobart.”
“For a big vessel like the Dawn Princess, that can mean upwards of 1500 additional visitors on the day it’s in port. This year, we’ve had three large cruise ships visit, compared to just one last year.”
Mr Large said that it was not just the Historic Site that benefited from the visits.
“Many passengers take a tour of local sites such as Eaglehawk Neck, Tasman Arch and the Coal Mines Historic Site. Then when these visitors are in Hobart, they are able to undertake other activities there, rather than spending that day coming to Port Arthur, so the wider regional tourism industry benefits.”
The voyage around the south coast of Tasmania and into Port Arthur is spectacular, and one that is appropriate to the history of the area; during the nineteenth century, everyone arrived at Port Arthur by sea. Unlike modern cruise ships, the vessels then offered little in the way of personal comfort and enjoyment, particularly for the convicts.
Cruise ship passengers have the opportunity to come ashore between at the Port Arthur Historic Site to immerse themselves in the history and heritage of one of Australia’s most significant convict settlements. The view they will have of the Site as they arrive ashore will be extraordinarily similar to that viewed by the convicts and free passengers who disembarked from those nineteenth century ships.
“It is a great way to show of our Site, and it’s an area of visitation that we hope will grow, especially if the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage nomination is successful.”