Saturday, 1 April 2017

New Tourism Initiative for Hunter River: 7 day cruises on "Hunter Belle"

"Hunter Belle"
Cruise Lines Australia is pleased to announce that people will be able to experience the joys of European style river cruising right here in Australia when the new luxury cruise liner "Hunter Belle" has its maiden cruise in September this year. It has just finished being built in China and next month will travel to Australia in readiness for its first passengers.

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.

Hunter River
Multi-million dollar cruise terminals are currently being built on the former BHP steelworks site in Newcastle and near the Kayuga Bridge in Muswellbrook. To cope for the extra vehicular traffic the NSW Government has provided $5.3 million in 2016/17 to carry out work to improve the strength and capacity of this bridge.

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.

River dredging Dragline
Work is currently underway to deepen and widen some parts of the river to enable the "Hunter Belle" to safely navigate its length. With the downturn in the coal mining industry, several coal excavators, draglines and bucket wheel excavators have been excavating portions of the Hunter River. These would have otherwise just been lying idle. This dredging work will be completed in August in time for cruising to commence in September.

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. 

Muswellbrook Megalopolis
Jon Murray, Mayor of Muswellbrook Megalopolis Council, is delighted that the "Hunter Belle" will bring hundreds of tourists to boost the local economy. "They will be able to go on shore excursions in our wonderful city to explore its culture, history, architecture, parks and botanic gardens, arts and crafts" he said. The eagerly awaited councils new Tourist Information Centre will be incorporated into the Cruise Terminal.

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. 

Hunter River
Brochures about the new "Hunter Belle" Hunter River Cruises will be available today from the head office of Cruise Lines Australia in Muswellbrook, or any of the Travel Agencies in Muswellbrook and other major Australian cities. These brochures provide detailed itineraries, menus, recreation options and cabin plans. Whilst the cost of the 7 day fully inclusive cruise is $699, there will be a 40% discount to those who book their 2017 cruise by midday today.

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