The battle for cruise is on with Brisbane’s new slick and chic terminal at Luggage Point looking to steal the crown away from Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal.
Over just a few weeks, four of Australia’s biggest cruise lines – P&O Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line and Princess – have revealed they will all be home porting some of their newest ships in Queensland.
Roy Cummins, the CEO of the Port of Brisbane, says he hopes the Sunshine State will attract cruisers who would have considered NSW, particularly Sydney as their first choice to sail from.
“Certainly, with ports and world-class tourism destinations along Queensland’s coastline as well as proximity to destinations like the South Pacific Islands, once international cruising resumes, we believe Brisbane is in an exciting position for the future,” he said.
“We expect Brisbane to be central to the recovery plans for cruise lines, once agreement can be reached with the relevant authorities about the industry’s safe resumption.”
The $177 million Brisbane International Cruise Terminal, which was due to open in October this year, will soon be the home to some new vessels heading to Australia.
About 180 cruises were planned to depart from the new terminal in the first season of operation, but COVID has put a pause on Australia’s cruise operations on foreign cruise ships, officially, until December 17.
But the recent revelations from a number of the big cruise lines has restored faith that Brisbane’s cruise industry will be back with a vengeance.
Royal Caribbean recently announced it would be homeporting Quantum of the Seas, one of the line’s newest and most technologically advanced ships.
“The arrival of Quantum will mark a big step-up for Queensland cruising. She’ll be the newest, most technologically advanced, feature-packed ship ever to cruise from the state. She’s coming because we wanted to offer a high-tech smart ship holiday to Queenslanders, sailing right from their doorstep – the trek to Sydney’s no longer needed for a Quantum-class experience. Queenslanders have shown themselves to be dedicated cruisers and we’re thrilled we can offer this type of holiday so close to home,” said Gavin Smith, Managing Director of RCI.
“The fly-cruise market has always been strong, and we continue to see solid demand with both intrastate and interstate fly-cruise bookings. Our out of town guests find they can kick their holiday up a gear, pre- or post- cruise, by adding in some adventures around Brisbane, Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast. Our 7-night Great Barrier Reef and 8-night South Pacific cruises are proving hugely popular, with big drawcards like snorkelling excursions around The Reef, and cultural discoveries in Vanuatu.”
P&O has dedicated the new Pacific Encounter, Princess Cruises will homeport the Coral Princess and Carnival Cruise Lines will have the Spirit for Queenslanders.
Mr Cummins said its Queensland’s close proximity to the South Pacific as well as idyllic local destinations like Airlie Beach and the Great Barrier Reef which makes the region so attractive to cruise lines.
“We’ll continue to work closely with the cruise lines to attract more cruise vessels and offer more itineraries to grow Queensland’s share of the cruise tourism industry to deliver economic and tourism opportunities for South East Queensland and the state more broadly,” he said.
“The cruise lines are responsible for setting and managing their individual itineraries; however, Brisbane’s geography means it is uniquely placed as a homeport or port of call for many exciting short and longer cruise itineraries.”
Forecasting prior to COVID-19 estimated that the new terminal could potentially triple Brisbane’s cruise industry to bring over 760,000 visitors annually as well as contribute $1.3 billion into the local economy.