Australia is gearing up for a bumper ‘wave season’, possibly its biggest ever. The 2023-/2024 cruise season will also include several new ships. Disney Cruise Line, Virgin Voyages and Scenic vessels will all making maiden visits to local ports this summer.

“Cruising may have returned late to this part of the world, but we’re catching up fast,” Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Managing Director in Australasia Joel Katz said.

During the peak period, from October to April 2023, about 70 cruise ships will operate in Australian waters. That’s up from the 60 scheduled to visit over the summer of 2019-20.

“Together, these ships will call for 1848 port days in Australia. Assuming they’re full, that represents more than 2.5 million passenger days in Australia,” Katz said.

Australia’s newest port

The success of Australia’s newest port Brisbane International Cruise Terminal, cut short by the pandemic, also continues to rise. Port of Brisbane CEO Neil Stephens said 138 vessels and 650,000 passengers arrived in the first 12 months of operation. BICT is now looking forward to a second successful season, he added.

“Brisbane has experienced a remarkable cruise recovery, with Brisbane International Cruise Terminal welcoming 12 different cruise lines throughout the season,” Stephens said. 

Over 160 vessels will berth at BICT this cruise season, from October 2023-September 2024, as Australia gears up for bumper ‘wave season’.

Ships, including Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas and Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Luminosa, will be up in Brisbane, setting up direct competition with the ports of Melbourne and Sydney.

NSW says recovery is well underway

A Port Authority of NSW spokesperson said “the cruise revival is well underway”.

“We saw one million passengers pass through Sydney cruise terminals at the end of 2022/23 financial year.

“The summer cruise season for 2022/23 was stronger than expected with a total of 286 cruise ships sailing into Sydney compared with 323 in 2018-19, the last full year before the pandemic.”

Victoria expects busiest season yet

A spokesperson for Ports Victoria said Melbourne’s coming season, 2023-24, is shaping as its busiest yet, with 127 visits scheduled. All but one will call at Station Pier in Port Melbourne. This means around 350,000 passengers and crew will be visiting Melbourne and surrounds. In comparison, last season saw 112 cruise ship visits to the Victorian capital.

The new season kicks off with the Grand Princess arriving at Station Pier on 23 October 2023. 

Two lines visit Melbourne for the first time this year – Disney Cruise Line with Disney Wonder and Virgin Voyages with Resilient Lady.

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