The Port of Broome will be open to cruise ships around the clock in time for the start of the cruise ship season in mid-October, with dredging underway this week.

The $15.3 million channel optimisation program will allow 24-hour access for cruise ships, which currently need to berth at irregular hours due to navigational hazards.

Dredging is expected to run for two weeks, and will have minimal environmental impacts.

The McGowan Government’s commitment to fix Broome Port prompted Carnival Australia to re-commit to homeporting the Sun Princess superliner in Fremantle for the 2019-20 cruise season.

The Sun Princess arrives in Fremantle on November 1 this year, carrying 2,000 guests and will homeport for a record 141 days.

The dredging equipment this week completed the final stage of the Channel Risk and Optimisation Project (CROP) at the Port of Port Hedland.

The CROP improves trade capacity by increasing channel depth and extending sailing windows, allowing port users to optimise tonnage on their vessels.

Coordination between Pilbara Ports Authority and Kimberley Ports Authority has reduced overall project costs for the Broome project, with the cutter suction dredge starting its journey in Port Hedland rather than from outside Australia.

Comments attributed to Ports Minister Alannah MacTiernan:

“Broome is one of Western Australia’s top destinations, but challenging tidal conditions and the rock mass in the entry channel have made it difficult for cruise ships to access the port at all tides.

“We want to make sure Broome is open for this lucrative business at all times and tides: providing benefit for retail and tourism businesses in the region.

“Dredging will finish in time for the arrival of the first cruise ship in mid-October.

“As a bonus, the dredging equipment was sent to the Port of Broome directly after the completing work at Port Hedland, significantly reducing mobilisation costs.”

Comments attributed to Tourism Minister Paul Papalia:

“The lack of 24-hour port access for larger cruise ships has long hamstrung the amazing potential for cruise tourism in Broome.

“Without this barrier, major cruise lines can spend longer in port and guests can enjoy more time ashore discovering the region’s many attractions including ancient dinosaur footprints, sunset camel rides and indigenous cultural experiences.

“It’s this increased time ashore that will be a real game-changer for the local tourism industry as cruise ship guests spend their money supporting local businesses from restaurants to tour operators.

“I congratulate all involved in reaching this major milestone and look forward to welcoming the first of the many larger cruise ships to arrive in Broome during the 2019-20 cruise ship season.”