Melbourne has finally welcomed back its first cruise ship after a drought of more than two years.

The Coral Princess arrived at Melbourne’s Station Pier Cruise Ship Terminal early this morning emblazoned with a “We ❤️ Melbourne” banner proudly displayed across its bow.

Steve Dimopoulos, the Victorian Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events says “today marks an important milestone for the state’s tourism and recovery efforts. It’s fantastic to see cruise ships back on our shores with passengers from all over the globe.”

A welcome committee was at the pier this morning to greet the ship, along with a shipload of fresh, Victorian produce.

“It is great to see cruising return to Melbourne after such a long absence with the city ready to participate in the growth of cruise tourism and the rebuilding of Australia’s $5 billion a year cruise industry,” says Marguerite Fitzgerald, President of Carnival Australia and P&O Cruises Australia.

The ship is currently on a six-day sail from Sydney along the coast of southeastern Australia.

After departing Melbourne this evening, it sails to Adelaide. A cruise of firsts, the Coral Princess will also be marking the return of cruising to South Australia.

Multiple cruise ships from Carnival, the parent company of Princess Cruises, will dock in Melbourne over the remainder of 2022 and into 2023, including the Queen Elizabeth which will call Melbourne home from mid-November.

Carnival’s other lines include P&O Cruises, Cunard, Holland America, Seabourn and, of course Carnival Cruises.

In total, 66 port calls will be made in the Victorian capital.