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<p>Mike Bowers/The Global Mail</p>

Mike Bowers/The Global Mail

Piano tuner Stan Campbell ,79, should be ready to retire and take a cruise. Instead he’s still hard at work on board.

The Call Of The Sea

In photos and audio interviews, a look at who supports the new wave of cruising.

The good readers of Cruise Passenger Magazine, an expert crowd in such matters, made their annual decree this week: Sydney Harbour is, for the eighth consecutive year, the finest cruise port in the world.

A record 265 cruise ships will enter the harbour this season. And nowadays the traffic is gliding in both directions; with a mighty dollar and retirement incomes relatively unscathed by the global financial crisis, Australian retirees are heading for the open seas.

In cabins once occupied by large, elderly Americans in tennis shoes, you’ll now find Australians unpacking their bags.

Many were once grey nomads, packing up the caravan and the 4WD and driving around Australia. Now with petrol prices rising, they’re becoming blue nomads, often circumnavigating Australia by sea — probably at roughly the same speed.

Cruising is a competitive, high-volume business, and cruise companies don’t have to pay high Australian wages in international waters. The all-inclusive price of a ticket covers meals, cabin and entertainment and the freedom of never having to cross the corridors of another airport terminal.

Passenger numbers have nearly tripled in the past five years, the highest growth rate of any cruise market in the world.

Australians now spend 6.5 million days at sea every year. And by 2020, at least a million Australians a year will book a holiday on a cruise liner, adding $2.28 billion to the local economy.

Most passengers head for the South Pacific, with the lure of New Zealand particularly strong. The more adventurous are headed for the Antarctic and the Amazon.

5 comments on this story
by Cathie

Hi Global Mail. I particularly loved the audio interview in this article which actually puts you on the stool next to Stan! Just one thing about the behind the scenes photos, with caption that says this is the original 'Love Boat'. We went for a cruise on another ship called the Pacific Princess in 1976 out of Sydney Harbour and around Fiji Islands - and at the time they said that was the original Love Boat ....or perhaps they say this about all of the ships! Thanks for a great three-piece interactive article!

December 1, 2012 @ 8:59am
by Trish

I was hoping to read a nice article on this, instead all I got was an introduction. I just don't understand the audio thing, it's noisy and hard to listen to in public. I'd much rather read, thank you. Can we at least get a transcript of the audio?

December 3, 2012 @ 1:03am
Show previous 2 comments
by James Nixon

"The giant Boeing A380." WHERE'S THE SUB?! This is the first article I have read in the Global Mail. If the authors haven't a clue about the brand / name of the aeroplane - they shouldn't use it / them as a comparison. I'll go back and keep reading ... this once.

January 23, 2013 @ 5:14am
by James Nixon

... and if it's Airbus A380's you're talking about; 2,945 / 545 = 5.4

January 23, 2013 @ 5:17am
by Andrew Brown

I absolutely love this story! As a bit of a cruiser and ship watcher I thought the pictures and captions are spot on about the cruise industry. Well done Mike.

December 2, 2013 @ 2:18pm
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