In a stark contrast to Sydney’s paralysed port, Brisbane International Cruise Terminal will be operating new facilities in two years, thanks to a remarkable deal with Carnival Cruise Lines.

Carnival Australia has committed to buy up to 100 “foundation” berthing days, with no more than four in any one week. The 15-year deal means the cost of construction work is underwritten.

To cement the deal, Carnival Spirit will sail from the city year-round. She currently sails from Sydney.

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Splendour, with a capacity of 3,900 guests, will sail from Sydney in December 2019.

The deal with Brisbane was so extraordinary, it had to be passed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC).

Cruise Lines International Association MD Joel Katz welcomed the deal – but added: “As was highlighted at the launch of CLIA’s 2017 Australia Source Market statistics recently, Australia has the highest demand for cruise in the world, but growth is being inhibited by infrastructure constraints across the region.”

He added: “Cruise contributes more than $5.3 billion to the Australian economy each year, and supports more than 22,000 jobs across different sectors supporting the industry.”

Sture Myrmell, president of Carnival Australia, said: “The terminal will be a major piece of national infrastructure and the single most important investment in cruise tourism in Queensland in 12 years.

“This project creates the opportunity for Queensland and its many regional ports to become the nation’s powerhouse for the cruise industry’s continued growth at a time when industry figures show infrastructure constraints around Australia are slowing momentum.

“This decision means Port of Brisbane will now get on with the job of building the terminal, which is a key plank of Queensland’s tourism growth story,” said Port of Brisbane CEO Roy Cummins.

The Luggage Point facility will be operating by mid-2020 and is expected to generate almost $5 billion for the Queensland economy alone within 15 years.

Carnival Spirit, Brisbane
Carnival Spirit will sail from Brisbane year round, it has been announced

Carnival Spirit will become the brand’s first ever ship to home port in Brisbane. The ship will arrive into her new home in 2020.

She will sail year-round from Brisbane to the tropical archipelagos of Vanuatu and New Caledonia, as well as offer shorter cruises to well-loved destinations in North Queensland.

Jennifer Vandekreeke, Carnival Cruise Line Vice-President, Australia, said: “Queenslanders have embraced Carnival’s free-spirited, family-friendly fun since our arrival in 2012. Since then, we have welcomed nearly 75,000 Queenslanders on Carnival cruises from Sydney and Melbourne.

“We’re delighted to announce that with the new cruise terminal we’ll be able to offer Queenslanders the opportunity to sail on Carnival right from their doorstep.”

Itineraries for Carnival Spirit’s 2020 Brisbane sailings will be announced mid-June 2018 with bookings opening in early July 2018.

Carnival Australia is the only cruise operator to base ships in Australia full-time through its brands of P&O Cruises Australia, Princess Cruises and Carnival Cruise Line and has been at the forefront of the sector’s growth for more than 10 years.

It also represents other iconic cruise lines including Cunard, Holland America Line, P&O Cruises UK and Seabourn.

“The decision means Port of Brisbane will now get on with the job of building the terminal, which is a key plank of Queensland’s tourism growth story,” Mr. Cummins said.

“The agreement with Carnival Australia gives us commercial certainty to construct the BICT, and we thank them for their ongoing support. This is also good news for the cruise industry as a whole, which will benefit from access to a world-class terminal facility.

“Cementing this partnership today means we can avoid delays and maintain our construction timeline which – weather permitting – targets completion in second quarter 2020.”