PHOTOS: Crowds welcome luxury liner Celebrity Solstice

Source: Newcastle Herald

IT CAME, it honked, it went.

Newcastle residents woke on Sunday to the sound of the largest ship to ever enter the harbour blasting a greeting as it passed Nobbys for the first time.

The 317-metre luxury cruise ship Celebrity Solstice made a whirlwind visit to the city, arriving from Brisbane  about 7am before departing for Sydney at 6pm. 

Newcastle made the most of it: the foreshore was bustling early as onlookers picked out the best spots to watch the ship come in, while blue skies and sunshine acted as the perfect welcome mat.

Lord mayor Jeff McCloy even donned the mayoral robes to greet passengers as they  disembarked.

‘‘It was bloody amazing,’’ he said. ‘‘I couldn’t believe the amount of locals along the foreshore who came out to welcome the ship in, and I couldn’t believe the reception we got from the passengers.

‘‘I think I posed for about 300 photos with them. They were really delighted with the reception we gave them. I met people from all over the world who said they never got that sort of reception in Brisbane or in Sydney.’’

Only six years old, the luxury superliner has plenty to boast about including 18 retail shops, a half-acre of manicured lawns on the top deck,  10  restaurants, a 1300-capacity theatre, and  more.

Despite that, the majority of the ship’s 2800 passengers had disembarked by 9am, and the sight of full shuttle busses dispatching bleary-eyed tourists to destinations like Nelson Bay and Pokolbin was enough to have the city’s tourism officials salivating.

Will Creedon, the chairman  of Tourism Hunter, said the visit was exciting because of the potential it hinted at.

‘‘Newcastle Ports have been really aggressive and dynamic in the last 12 months in how they deal with the costs associated with bringing these ships here to make Newcastle a more attractive place to visit, like Brisbane and Sydney,’’ he said.

‘‘You look at the number of passengers on board, if we can get more of these ships here, that’s the population of Cessnock in 10 trips.’’

With a return visit booked for the same time next year, the city’s officials are bullish in their assessment of Newcastle’s chances of becoming a regular stopover. 

On board the ship, Newcastle City Council’s manager of tourism and economic services, Jan Ross said yesterday: ‘‘I know we’ll be seeing many more ships from all over the globe in the future.’’

Celebrity Solstice enters the Port of Newcastle at sunrise. Picture: Darren Pateman

Celebrity Solstice enters the Port of Newcastle at sunrise. Picture: Darren Pateman

 Cruise ship Celebrity Solstice enters the Port of Newcastle. Glen Coulam paddles past. Picture Darren Pateman

Cruise ship Celebrity Solstice enters the Port of Newcastle. Glen Coulam paddles past. Picture Darren Pateman

Celebrity Solstice enters the Port of Newcastle at sunrise. Picture: Darren Pateman

Celebrity Solstice enters the Port of Newcastle at sunrise. Picture: Darren Pateman

People line the breakwall to watch cruise ship Celebrity Solstice enter the Port of Newcastle at sunrise. Picture: Darren Pateman

People line the breakwall to watch cruise ship Celebrity Solstice enter the Port of Newcastle at sunrise. Picture: Darren Pateman

People on Horseshoe Beach to watch cruise ship Celebrity Solstice enter the Port of Newcastle at sunrise. Picture: Darren Pateman

People on Horseshoe Beach to watch cruise ship Celebrity Solstice enter the Port of Newcastle at sunrise. Picture: Darren Pateman

Celebrity Solstice enters the Port of Newcastle at sunrise. Picture: Darren Pateman

Celebrity Solstice enters the Port of Newcastle at sunrise. Picture: Darren Pateman

Celebrity Solstice enters the Port of Newcastle at sunrise. Picture: Darren Pateman

Celebrity Solstice enters the Port of Newcastle at sunrise. Picture: Darren Pateman

People line the breakwall to watch cruise ship Celebrity Solstice enter the Port of Newcastle at sunrise. Picture: Darren Pateman

People line the breakwall to watch cruise ship Celebrity Solstice enter the Port of Newcastle at sunrise. Picture: Darren Pateman

Cruise ship Celebrity Solstice docked in Newcastle Harbour. Picture Darren Pateman

Cruise ship Celebrity Solstice docked in Newcastle Harbour. Picture Darren Pateman

The Celebrity Solstice, 317 metres long, arriving in Newcastle, as seen from Stockton. Picture: Andrew Frith

The Celebrity Solstice, 317 metres long, arriving in Newcastle, as seen from Stockton. Picture: Andrew Frith

The Celebrity Solstice, 317 metres long, arriving in Newcastle, as seen from Stockton. Picture: Andrew Frith

The Celebrity Solstice, 317 metres long, arriving in Newcastle, as seen from Stockton. Picture: Andrew Frith

The Celebrity Solstice, 317 metres long, arriving in Newcastle, as seen from Stockton. Picture: Andrew Frith

The Celebrity Solstice, 317 metres long, arriving in Newcastle, as seen from Stockton. Picture: Andrew Frith

The Celebrity Solstice, 317 metres long, arriving in Newcastle, as seen from Stockton. Picture: Andrew Frith

The Celebrity Solstice, 317 metres long, arriving in Newcastle, as seen from Stockton. Picture: Andrew Frith

The Celebrity Solstice, 317 metres long, arriving in Newcastle, as seen from Stockton. Picture: Andrew Frith

The Celebrity Solstice, 317 metres long, arriving in Newcastle, as seen from Stockton. Picture: Andrew Frith

The Celebrity Solstice, 317 metres long, arriving in Newcastle, as seen from Stockton. Picture: Andrew Frith

The Celebrity Solstice, 317 metres long, arriving in Newcastle, as seen from Stockton. Picture: Andrew Frith

The Celebrity Solstice, 317 metres long, arriving in Newcastle, as seen from Stockton. Picture: Andrew Frith

The Celebrity Solstice, 317 metres long, arriving in Newcastle, as seen from Stockton. Picture: Andrew Frith

Celebrity Solstice taken from the apex of the Stockton Bridge. Picture Kelly Loftberg

Celebrity Solstice taken from the apex of the Stockton Bridge. Picture Kelly Loftberg

Photo by Teresa Finch

Photo by Teresa Finch

The main dining hall on the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

The main dining hall on the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

On board the Celebrity Solstice. The Lawn Club area with actual grass gets a watering. Picture: Simone De Peak

On board the Celebrity Solstice. The Lawn Club area with actual grass gets a watering. Picture: Simone De Peak

On board the Celebrity Solstice. The Lawn Club area with actual grass. Picture: Simone De Peak

On board the Celebrity Solstice. The Lawn Club area with actual grass. Picture: Simone De Peak

On board the Celebrity Solstice. The Lawn Club area with actual grass. Picture: Simone De Peak

On board the Celebrity Solstice. The Lawn Club area with actual grass. Picture: Simone De Peak

On board the Celebrity Solstice. The Persian Garden Area with heated tiled lounges in the Aqua Spa. Picture: Simone De Peak

On board the Celebrity Solstice. The Persian Garden Area with heated tiled lounges in the Aqua Spa. Picture: Simone De Peak

 The gym with a view on board the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

The gym with a view on board the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

The adults only solarium with indoor pool on the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

The adults only solarium with indoor pool on the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

 Newcastle views from the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

Newcastle views from the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

 The Sky Lounge room of the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

The Sky Lounge room of the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

Ron Sorensen of Newcastle Port Corporation presents Capt. Zisis Taramas with a plaque on board the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

Ron Sorensen of Newcastle Port Corporation presents Capt. Zisis Taramas with a plaque on board the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

Views from the Sky Lounge of the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

Views from the Sky Lounge of the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

Views from the Sky Lounge of the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

Views from the Sky Lounge of the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

Views from the Sky Lounge of the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

Views from the Sky Lounge of the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

Views from the Sky Lounge of the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

Views from the Sky Lounge of the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

View of Newcastle from the deck of the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

View of Newcastle from the deck of the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

A happy dolphin meeting people as they disembark off the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

A happy dolphin meeting people as they disembark off the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

The balcony areas of the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

The balcony areas of the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

Cleaners working dockside on the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

Cleaners working dockside on the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

Passengers disembarking from the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

Passengers disembarking from the Celebrity Solstice. Picture: Simone De Peak

The Celebrity Solstice leaving Newcastle, Sunday March 9, 2014. The ship set a record as being the largest ship to ever berth in the port. Picture Eddie O'Reilly

The Celebrity Solstice leaving Newcastle, Sunday March 9, 2014. The ship set a record as being the largest ship to ever berth in the port. Picture Eddie O'Reilly

The Celebrity Solstice leaving Newcastle, Sunday March 9, 2014. The ship set a record as being the largest ship to ever berth in the port. Picture Eddie O'Reilly

The Celebrity Solstice leaving Newcastle, Sunday March 9, 2014. The ship set a record as being the largest ship to ever berth in the port. Picture Eddie O'Reilly

The Celebrity Solstice leaving Newcastle, Sunday March 9, 2014. The ship set a record as being the largest ship to ever berth in the port. Picture Eddie O'Reilly

The Celebrity Solstice leaving Newcastle, Sunday March 9, 2014. The ship set a record as being the largest ship to ever berth in the port. Picture Eddie O'Reilly

The Celebrity Solstice leaving Newcastle, Sunday March 9, 2014. The ship set a record as being the largest ship to ever berth in the port. Picture Eddie O'Reilly

The Celebrity Solstice leaving Newcastle, Sunday March 9, 2014. The ship set a record as being the largest ship to ever berth in the port. Picture Eddie O'Reilly

The Celebrity Solstice leaving Newcastle, Sunday March 9, 2014. The ship set a record as being the largest ship to ever berth in the port. Picture Eddie O'Reilly

The Celebrity Solstice leaving Newcastle, Sunday March 9, 2014. The ship set a record as being the largest ship to ever berth in the port. Picture Eddie O'Reilly

The Celebrity Solstice leaving Newcastle, Sunday March 9, 2014. The ship set a record as being the largest ship to ever berth in the port. Picture Eddie O'Reilly

The Celebrity Solstice leaving Newcastle, Sunday March 9, 2014. The ship set a record as being the largest ship to ever berth in the port. Picture Eddie O'Reilly

317 metres – The ship’s length. It is the largest ship ever to visit Newcastle.

13,000 – The number of meals prepared each day on board the ship. It takes 162 chefs to prepare all that food.

7.6 metres – The height of the Ficus Benjamina ‘wintergreen’ tree suspended in the middle of the ship’s 13-deck high atrium.

2800 – That’s how many bottles of wine are stuffed into the ship’s two-storey, floor-to-ceiling glass wine tower in the main restaurant.

277– The number of solar panels on board. Enough to power all the guest elevators.

$2419 – That’s what one ticket for a balcony room on a 14-night cruise from Sydney to Auckland will set you back, including a flight back home, according to cruiseabout.com.