River cruising is very popular in European countries, but up to now has sadly not been available in Australia. Cruising will now be far more affordable for the average Australian as international airfares are not necessary.
Cruises will be for 7 fun filled days of travelling from Newcastle to Muswellbrook, or from Muswellbrook to Newcastle on the premier river in NSW, the Hunter River.
Stage one of the two new cruise terminals in Newcastle and Muswellbrook will be completed in September. These will consist of welcome and reception areas, covered car parking, baggage storage, cafes, restaurants, fast food outlets and souvenir outlets. Stage 2, to open in March 2018, will consist of a multiplex cinema and a 250 room 5 star hotel in each city. Muswellbrook currently has no 5 star hotel, so this new hotel will fill a huge void in the tourism sector. Cruise passengers will be able to start or end their scenic river cruise with an overnight stay in one of these two new hotels.
The luxurious cruise ship "Hunter Belle" has all the amenities of a fine hotel. Once settled into their suite people will be comfortably transported along the scenic Hunter River. Many historic towns and villages will be visited where enriching shore excursions will be offered.
The cruise liner will boast IMAX theatre, craft beer brewery, 4 elegant restaurants, 3 bars, intimate coffee shops, live entertainment theatre, day spa complex, heated indoor and outdoor pools, water park and water slides. Each of the 250 cabins are large suites with separate living and sleeping areas, ensuite with spa and private balcony.
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Nina Voyage, CEO of the Hunter River Development Authority, believes that the Hunter River cruising project is an important part of the state’s strategy to achieve rapid, meaningful initiatives to support business, create jobs and diversify the economy. "The state and federal governments have worked closely together to find ways to cut red tape to fast track this new business enterprise" she said.
Mr Acqua Rivulet, Hunter Minister of Tourism, endorsed the new river cruise project. "This new business creation allows innovation to flourish and, most importantly, creates more jobs" he stated. "It is designed to benefit eco and nature-based tourism, and will advance the Hunter National Long-Term Tourism Strategy Tourism 2025." All food and alcohol for the cruise liner will be sourced locally in Muswellbrook, and all laundering will be carried out locally.
Della Darling, Mayor of Aberdeen City Council, is disappointed that Muswellbrook was chosen as the cruise terminal and not Aberdeen. "I hope that in the not too near distant future they will extend the river cruise up to Aberdeen and build a new cruise terminal here" she implored. As an incentive, she has offered the local Aberdeen Highland Scottish Pipe and Drums Orchestra to serenade the cruise ship on each arrival from the banks of the Hunter River.