A group of Cardiff South Primary School students were among two dozen passengers treated to a sneak-peak at school holiday cruising on Friday.
The invite-only event marked the return to cruising on Lake Macquarie.
Sisters Maea and Larni Andrews and their friends Marli and Laila Nesbitt were lucky enough to spend their final day of Term 3 onboard the Lady Mac as it returned to the water after six months in drydock.
Formally known as the River Princess, the vessel ceased operation in March due to COVID-19.
During the break it underwent extensive equipment and machinery upgrades, as well as and interior refurbishment and fit-out.
After positive signs that the city’s tourism industry was bouncing back, with increased bookings from Sydneysiders, Lake Macquarie Cruises director Peter Hanrahan said he and his crew were keen to get back in the bay.
“It’s exciting to be back on the water and providing a family-focused tourism attraction that will help more people discover our incredible lake,” he said.
“This is an hour-and-a-half cruise and we drop the net straight away.
“It’s full of kids the whole time.
“We just swap the kids in and out as we go and finish up with a sausage sizzle.
“For school holidays in particular, the cruise is all about the boom net.”
Boom netting involves riding in a secure, sturdy net that is attached to the back of the vessel.
The net itself holds up to eight adults at a time, or 15 children.
Lake Macquarie City Council marketing and tourism coordinator, Bianca Gilmore, said accommodation and tourism providers across the city were experiencing a resurgence in bookings albeit shorter stays booked on short notice.
“We’re seeing a lot more last-minute bookings,” she said.
“Sydney is our biggest overnight market and, at the moment, a lot of people are keen to escape to somewhere that’s convenient and close to home, especially with restrictions on travel further afield.
“But they’re a little more hesitant and waiting until the last minute to book to make sure there aren’t any outbreaks that might impact their travels.”
Launching from the new Speers Point Jetty, which reopened in June after a $1.5 million upgrade, Lake Macquarie Cruises depart at 11am and 1pm every Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday throughout the school holidays.