Port Kembla near Wollongong yesterday became the newest destination to join the Australian cruise map as Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas sailed into the NSW south coast port with 2,200 guests onboard as part of a seven-night voyage to Tasmania.

The visit was also the first time a passenger cruise ship had berthed in the former steel port, with guests receiving a welcome in the form of a flyover by a vintage Catalina flying boat.

Local tourism body Destination Wollongong organised a ‘Welcome to Wollongong’ market by the shore, featuring local producers and products from the region. Volunteers were also on hand to provide directions where needed, advice on local highlights and a smiling face in general to help guests take the most from their day.

Seven different shore excursions were available for guests to reserve on the ship including visits to Jamberoo Action Park, Symbio Wildlife Park and tours of Kiama, Bald Hill Lookout, Shellharbour Village and the Nan Tien Temple.

Over the next 18 months, four more visits to Port Kembla have been scheduled by Royal Caribbean, with the line’s larger sisters Explorer of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas both now set to call beginning from early 2018. Radiance of the Seas will itself return for a second visit on 14 December 2017.

Royal Caribbean managing director Adam Armstrong also addressed the elephant in the room in whether Port Kembla may eventually become a second home port for the line in New South Wales, saying the company will “continue to explore opportunities to utilise the port as an overflow to Sydney Harbour”.