Cruising into the new year
THE Whitsunday Cruise Ship Ambassadors welcomed their last cruise ship for 2015 on December 23, as the Carnival Legend made its very first stop in Airlie Beach.
With 2600 passengers on board, comprising 17 different nationalities, the ambassadors were certainly kept busy, but their efforts were rewarded.
"The senior staff from Carnival Legend came ashore and presented Mayor Jenny Whitney, Abell Point Marina manager Luke McCaul and the volunteer ambassadors with a plaque, and the mayor presented a plaque to the cruise ship," Cruise Ship Ambassador Brian Richardson said.
The Cruise Ship Ambassadors had a busy 2015, recording a total of 69,000 national and international guests.
"We all go down and greet and farewell the ships because we love it, we love promoting our region and welcoming visitors. We want them to come back," Mr Richardson said.
The Whitsunday Cruise Ship Ambassadors are role models for other cruise ship hubs, and a delegation from the Fraser Coast will be coming up to the Whitsundays in January specifically to learn from the ambassadors about how they operate.
"Some of these cruise ships go to places like Darwin and Cairns, and there's no one there to greet them. There's no one there waiting. We give our visitors the royal treatment, and we get a lot of good feedback because of it," Mr Richardson said.
This year will see an influx of cruise ships to the region, with four expected in February and six expected in March.
"February and March are typically the quiet period for the Whitsundays, as everyone is back at work and the holidays are over," Mr Richardson said.
"Getting four ships in February and six in March is going to bring about 20,000 visitors to the region. It's a huge injection to our economy, so it's important that we give them a lasting impression so that they might return."
Mr Richardson said making visitors feel welcome was not just the responsibility of the ambassadors alone but also of the town. "The whole community needs to band together, provide top service and make sure our visitors plan to return again," he said.