The Brisbane International Cruise Terminal (BITC) is fast becoming a powerhouse in the cruise market, taking on Sydney with the world’s biggest and newest ships heading to the Sunshine State.

Ships like Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas, Carnival Luminosa and more puts Queensland cruising in direct competition with Sydney and Melbourne.

Executive General Manager of Port of Brisbane, Brendan Connell, revealed that there would be around 170 vessels set to visit BICT in its inaugural full season.

“We expect to see between 350,000 and 400,000 passengers in the first full season,” he added.

Discussing what the new BITC means for the future of cruising in Queensland, Mr Connell explained, “Brisbane is now the newest custom-built cruise facility in the country capable of homeporting the biggest vessels in the world. This means Brisbane and Queensland are in the position to fulfill their potential as the cruising capital of the country, given their year-round cruising capability and the largest state network of ports in the country.

“We already have three vessels homeporting out of Brisbane, with many other lines sending day callers. We look forward to working with the entire industry to bring more cruise lines into Queensland in the future.”

In celebration of the new terminal, we take a look at just some of the ships that are set to arrive in the Sunshine State this year.

Pacific Encounter

Arriving in Brisbane on November 16, P&O Cruises Australia President Marguerite Fitzgerald said that the new addition to Queensland was a vital element to rebuilding cruise tourism in Australia and the region.

“It is fantastic that Queensland again has its own P&O ship to carry on a long tradition of having a ship based year-round in Brisbane,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

“Brisbane has always been a great turnaround port for cruises to New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea and will be again as P&O’s horizons grow.”

Clean Cruising’s Dan Russell said: “We know Queenslanders can’t wait to cruise from the new terminal and travel agents like us are in hiring mode again to keep up with the booking demand. Welcome back P&O!”

Ms Fitzgerald said Pacific Encounter will make 24 cruises from Brisbane between now and the end of the year on a variety of itineraries in Queensland and the Pacific with another 54 cruises in 2023.

“We are looking forward to a near-normal summer cruise season around Australia in 2022-23 and Pacific Encounter will be a big part of that ongoing success story here in Queensland,” she said.

Quantum of the Seas

After years of absence, Royal Caribbean is back in Brisbane with the cruise line and cruise community both thrilled at the return.

Quantum of the Seas will be homeporting out of the new Brisbane International Cruise Terminal, offering cruisers escapes along the Australian coast, across to New Zealand and out to the South Pacific. These sailings will run until April 2023.

Quantum of the Seas’ touchdown back in Brisbane was a big one, with Gavin Smith, vice president and managing director at Royal Caribbean International Australia and New Zealand, and Neil Stephens, CEO at the Port of Brisbane, both present to welcome the ship to its new home.

Smith said: “The arrival of Quantum of the Seas into her new homeport in Brisbane is the beginning of a new benchmark for family holidays from Queensland and throughout Australia.

“This is a significant day for the industry and Royal Caribbean, and we’d like to thank our loyal guests, suppliers and the wider travel industry in Australia and New Zealand for their unwavering support in the leadup to this moment and for our successful debut in Queensland.”

Through homeporting in Brisbane, Royal Caribbean ships can reach key ports quicker, and save big money for local families.

“For Royal what we can deliver out of Brisbane is a seven-night itinerary, getting the same number of ports as a nine-night itinerary out of Sydney. So we can do a seven-night, three-port itinerary, as opposed to doing a nine-night, three-port itinerary.

“This means, for the South East Queensland group that will travel with us, they don’t have to bundle the kids up and fly to Sydney and pay $100 in a taxi (to the airport). They can just go to Luggage Point, park their car at the pier and head off.”

Mr Smith explains how this can represent significant savings for families.

“This means buying a seven-night cruise for $1,000 on four passengers that are 28 days, as opposed to paying for four passengers at nine nights, that’s 36 days, plus flights.

He said a family of four could pay $600 a night for the shorter cruise and use the saving for the airfare and a hotel stay or theme park visit.

Carnival Luminosa

Carnival Luminosa arrived in the Sunshine State over the weekend, with the ship lighting up 61 windows to read ‘We <3 Queensland.’

Formerly Costa Luminosa, Carnival Luminosa has been renovated and redesigned with Carnival Cruise Line’s signature fun atmosphere.

The vessel is a sister ship to the other four Spirit-class ships of Carnival’s fleet, accommodating 2826 guests and 1050 crew. Carnival’s previous plan was to acquire Costa Magica, which will instead now remain part of Costa Cruises’ fleet.

Ported at the Brisbane International Cruise Terminal, the Luminosa’s spectacular arrival celebrates the ship setting sail on her first passenger cruise on November 6 and being the first Carnival ship to sail from Brisbane, with 28 sailings from November 2022 to April 2023.

On Luminosa’s arrival, Carnival Cruise Line Australia VP Kara Glamore said that having a Brisbane-based ship has long been in the works for Carnival.

“Brisbane is the first market globally to experience the big, bright, fun that Carnival Luminosa has to offer and we thank Queenslanders for their patience, love, and support,” Glamore said.

“Having a Brisbane-based ship has been a goal of ours for quite some time and it’s only appropriate that our ship in the Sunshine State is packed with natural light, plus the hospitality and fun that Carnival is famous for.”

Back in June, Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line said of the expansion: “With our full fleet back to guest operations and the pent-up demand for Carnival we are seeing every week aboard our ships, the chance to expand with Luminosa and then the arrival of Carnival Celebration in November provides our guests with more choices and new ways to enjoy a Carnival vacation.

“Our Spirit-class ships are very popular with our guests and Luminosa will be a great addition given the large number of balcony cabins which make her an ideal ship for this deployment. And equally important, this will allow Carnival to finally start our highly anticipated itineraries from Brisbane, so we’ll have two ships operating in Australia for the high season Down Under.”

Carnival Luminosa will operate out of Brisbane seasonally from November 2022 to April 2023. The ship will then reposition to Seattle from May 2023 for a series of Alaskan itineraries before returning to Queensland later in the year.

Coral Princess

In June of this year, the Coral Princess’ arrival in Brisbane marked the first-ever ship to be homeported at the new Brisbane International Cruise Terminal (BICT), besides becoming the first of the line’s Medallion-Class vessels to call Australia home.

Coral Princess departed on its first guest cruise on June 16, 2022. Amid the milestone, Stuart Allison, Princess Cruises’ SVP for Asia Pacific, U.K. and Europe said the ship’s homeport season in Brisbane was set to inject approximately $60 million into the Queensland economy in crew and passenger spending, ship supplies and port charges.

“Queensland will feature front and centre in a new winter program of sailings from Australia, which demonstrates Princess Cruises’ commitment to cruising Down Under and to the local travel agent community. Our focus on Brisbane also reflects the demand for cruise holidays among Queenslanders, as well as the growing interest in domestic cruising,” he said at the time.

Director and General Manager of Clean Cruising, Dan Russell, added at the time, “Our clients have been eagerly waiting for a cruise ship to be homeported in Brisbane, and to see Coral Princess here today is another great step forward for the cruise industry. We have a number of clients booked on this MedallionClass ship for this winter season including a couple who have booked over 50 back-to-back cruises including two Round World Cruises in 2023 and 2024. We thank these guests and all the cruise guests far and wide for their patience as we restart cruising in Australia.”

Now, the Coral Princess has returned to Brisbane for 10 additional voyages from November. The ship will make 48 calls to the state’s ports this year.

Celebrity Eclipse

Despite suffering delays as it returned to port in Sydney, the Celebrity Eclipse‘s highly-anticipated arrival in Brisbane will likely not be affected.

On November 3, guests booked on Celebrity Eclipse for the 11-night Great Barrier Reef cruise were notified via email of a delay in their embarkation the next day after the ship was delayed returning to port for several hours due to poor weather, with embarkation delayed for the next cruise as well.

“Celebrity Eclipse experienced inclement weather on the previous sailing which has resulted in the ship arriving into Sydney later than expected,” the email read. “Due to the ship’s late arrival, we ask that all guests with selected embark windows between 12:00 PM and 2:30 PM arrive to the pier 2 hours later.”

“We are eager to get your vacation started as soon as possible and can’t wait to Journey WonderFULL with you through Australia!”

While the ship may have been slightly delayed with embarkation, the rest of the itinerary for the cruise is not likely to need adjustments due to the later embarkation timing.

The impacted cruise is an 11-night Great Barrier Reef sailing roundtrip from Sydney, with port of call visits to Willis Island, Port Douglas, Yorkeys Knob, Airlie Beach, and Brisbane, before returning to Sydney on Monday, November 14.

Grand Princess

Princess Cruises will have three ships sailing in Australia this year, Coral Princess, Majestic Princess, and Grand Princess, with Majestic Princess sailing on her first cruise last month.

Grand Princess joined the other ships in Australia on November 2, sailing from Sydney on a 2-night seacation to Melbourne.