Cruising behemoth could bring $1m to Melbourne

She is 15-decks tall, has three swimming pools, a casino and a skating track, and her cargo of tourists could bring a bounty of $1 million to Melbourne.

The 3800-passenger Voyager of the Seas, one of the world's biggest cruise-ships, will tie up at Port Melbourne's Station Pier early on Sunday, and is expected to draw large crowds of onlookers during her 12-hour stopover.

Standing on end, the 311-metre ship is taller than Melbourne's Eureka Tower, at 297 metres, and is larger than the US navy's biggest aircraft carrier.

The general manager of the International Cruise Council Australasia, Brett Jardine, estimates that the ship's passengers and crew will spend at least $1 million here.

"Each passenger is going to spend on excursions arranged through the ship, and on local tours, restaurants, cafes, bars and souvenir shops. It would not be unrealistic to say each will spend $200 and with 3800 on board, that's around $750,000 for starters.

"The crew will also spend when they come ashore . . . I'd say it will be a minimum of $1 million dollars for the visit."

The floating fantasy-world, which also has an ice rink and a rock-climbing wall, a promenade of shops, pubs and cafes and a nine-hole miniature golf course, was the biggest in the world when she was built in 1999, and still rates as the eighth biggest, behind behemoths such as Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas.

The arrival of the ship, during an 18-day voyage including Australian and New Zealand ports, heralds the start of Australia's busiest cruise season.

The Voyager of the Seas will be the biggest cruise ship to be based in Australia, but other large ships here for the first time will include Carnival Spirit, Celebrity Solstice, Holland America's Oosterdam, Seabourn Sojourn and Oceania Marina.

The grand dame of cruising, Cunard's Queen Mary 2, is also scheduled to arrive in Melbourne on March 21 and Sydney on March 7 and 19.

Mr Jardine said cruising is booming. In 2011, 623,294 Australians took a cruise somewhere in the world, a 34 per cent increase on the 2010 figure of 466,692.

On a per capita basis, North America is the biggest source of cruisers with 3.1 per cent of the population taking a holiday at sea, followed by the UK and Australia with 2.7 per cent.

Mr Jardine said Voyager of the Seas will return to Melbourne three times during the summer cruise season.

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