Our maritime lawyers know that an accident at a cruise port can happen at any time, regardless of how many precautions workers might take to improve safety for travelers and other workers. Accidents can take place for various reasons, including mechanical failure, lack of communication or even due to adverse weather conditions. The important thing to remember is that when an accident does take place, whether it involves a crewmember or a cruise passenger, victims have a right to seek legal help for their injuries.
Even cruise passengers traveling from the port in Sydney, Australia should exercise caution to avoid any injuries. The port has been garnering a lot of attention recently due to a hike in berthing fees, and according to the Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF), the port might just become the most expensive in the world because of the expenses it is facing. Will holding the reputation of most expensive port in the world lead authorities to improve safety protocols? Only time will tell.
For now, the New South Wales Government is mostly focused on staying in business. Port authorities are changing their tradition of charging an hourly rate for cruise liners to dock in Sydney Harbour to a fee per passenger basis. The government has proposed a fee of $18 per passenger, which will rise to $30 in 2015. The fee for cruise lines is much worse. The government’s new fees could cause cruise liners to jump from paying an average of $3,000 to dock at Sydney to a whopping $115,000. This could, in turn, cause the price of cruise itineraries to shoot up as well.
Perhaps the port might experience fewer accidents after all, but not because of improved safety conditions, because the port fees are just too expensive so travelers are less likely to sail from Sydney.
According to John Lee, from the TTF, the move to charge per head is a logical one. He believes it will more accurately reflect the costs of bigger ships. However, he does believe that the proposed fees are too high and suggests charging one-third of the proposed amount.
“Sydney pretty much overnight will go from being one of the cheapest berthing harbours in the world to the most expensive,” he said. “More expensive than New York, more expensive than Barcelona – two internationally renowned ports.”
Yet, the Ports Minister Duncan Gay says the cruise ship industry can afford the levies, explaining that this is the first time since 1996 that prices will be raised and the funds will be allocated toward improving the port.
“We have the best harbour and we are aiming to make our facilities the best in the world,” he said. “In these tough times you don’t do it without money. We’ve been careful to put in a charge that we don’t believe will hurt the industry, but will enhance the product.”
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