Small ship cruising – From muddy rivers to blue lagoons
Cook Cruises (CCC), Blue Lagoon Cruises (BLC), and Melanesian Tourist Services (MTS) operate respectively in Australia and Fiji, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea (PNG). The geographical and cultural contexts of each company are outlined along with their historical growth and market segments. Management implications and similarities are discussed. For this study the focus for CCC is on its operation in Northern Queensland, Australia. Its Fiji cruise business is similar to that of BLC.
The three countries form a triangle in the south-west Paciﬁc Ocean. Australia is a vast island continent with a population of nearly 20 million. It is industrially well developed, while politically and culturally it is arguably ambivalent. Its historical association is proudly British; its geographical location is distinctly Asia Paciﬁc and its cultural proclivity is decidedly American. Its main industries are mineral extraction, agriculture – including wool, wheat, dairy and meat production – and tourism. Fiji, a British colony until 1970 and an independent member of the Common-
wealth until 1987, is now a republic following the military coups of that year. It consists of three main islands – Viti Levu, seat of the capital, Suva, Vanua Levu and Taveuni – along with some 320 other islands. The population of 857,000 is multicultural, with Fijians comprising the largest ethnic group (50%). Its economy is based on sugar, ﬁshing, gold mining, manufacturing (particularly garments) and tourism. PNG was under Australian administration until 1975 when it became an
independent state and member of the Commonwealth. It consists of the eastern half of the large island of New Guinea and numerous oﬀshore islands. The majority of the population of 5.2 million is Melanesian. Its economy is dominated by mineral extraction and agriculture, although its fortunes ﬂuctuate because of ongoing political instability. Tourism remains underdeveloped. All three countries have tropical weather (a large part of Australia lies within the tropics) with hot, wet summers and marginally milder, drier ‘winters’. Many Northern Europeans would ﬁnd the two seasons barely distinguishable. CCC cruises the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef which lies along the coast of Queensland. It is a mixture of low coral islands, high islands and vast coral reefs below the water’s surface. BLC charts its course through similar islands and many small coral reefs in Fiji’s Yasawa group, while MTS oﬀers both island-focused cruises and its special cruise up the mighty, muddy Sepik River. The three tourism sectors have marked diﬀerences. Australia has a highly
developed, very diverse tourism industry. Its main markets are Asia-based with Japan at the forefront. The United Kingdom, United States and New Zealand are also strong generating regions. Australia is well serviced by the world’s major airlines either directly or through partnerships and code sharing. The various