TWO Cruise ships will drop anchor in Twofold Bay next Monday and Eden businesses are gearing up for what is expected to be a busy day.
The passengers and crew of the two ships, The Astor and the Seabourn Sojourn, are estimated to be bringing more than 1,000 visitors ashore and taking to the streets of Eden.
The Astor is expected to arrive in the early morning and the Seabourn Sojourn by 10am.
A number of passengers will take the opportunity to walk down the town to check out the local shops and cafes while many others will opt to climb aboard buses and visit other attractions including a visit to Bega Cheese, tours of Ben Boyd National Park and a tour of Wheelers Oysters Farm.
Wheelers Oyster Farm owner Jacqui Smith said she is expecting a group of passengers to take an oyster farm tour on Monday.
“We operate oyster tours every day and they will get to learn all about oysters and even taste test a few different types of oysters,” Ms Smith said.
“Usually we have groups of 10 to 15 people in these groups and on Monday we have more than 80 visitors booked in.”
On the tour visitors will learn about the thriving oyster industry, its history and the life cycle of the oyster.
The tour will mark the first time Ms Smith has hosted cruise ship passengers at her newly purchased business and she is hoping the visitors will enjoy the unique experience the farm offers.
“We are excited, it’s great for the region especially since the summer season is drawing to a close,” she said.
“We have extra staff on and it should be a great day.”
It is estimated that cruise ships annually inject several hundred thousand dollars to the community and Cruise Eden coordinator Gail Ward is encouraging local businesses to engage with passengers on their visit.
“It’s not just about what the passengers spend on the day they come to Eden it’s about making their trip to Eden a memorable one,” Mrs Ward said.
“A lot of people who travel on these cruise ships will come back again for a repeat visit.
“Passengers are often looking for a point of difference, a local product or local experience.”
Mrs Ward is hoping that the weather for Monday’s visit will be able to showcase Eden at its best and that rough seas do not prevent passengers from coming ashore.
“All this work goes into preparing for these ships to arrive and if we have bad weather on Monday they may not all come ashore.
“The ships will have to tender the passengers and often if the seas are big many of the elderly won’t come to shore.
“Bring on the wharf I say, once we have the extension to the wharf the passengers will simply walk down the gangplank and come to shore.”
The long awaited extension to the breakwater wharf is predicted to attract around 30 ships to Eden annually and allows for vessels on shorter voyages to port in Eden.
“These ships coming in are on round-the-world trips,” Mrs Wade said.
“With the new wharf we will be able to take ships that are on shorter trips and this is a different demographic of customers that will come into Eden.
“On shorter trips they are often families with children and they often spend more money when they are on shore than those passengers on longer trips.”
The extension to the wharf is expected to be completed by mid 2015.
Mrs Wade said it will be a significant boost for the region.
“We are just waiting for the break wharf to be signed off at the moment,” Mrs Wade said.
“The new federal government assures us it is all going to plan and the plans are there and they are shovel-ready.
“As soon as tenders go out we are expecting it to be up and running in mid 2015.”