Queensland’s $1 billion cruise ship industry’s Covid-19 economic recovery is underway with the first cruise vessel arriving at the Brisbane International Cruise Terminal.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the Pacific Explorer was the first large cruising vessel to visit Brisbane since the pandemic.
“Today marks the relaunch of Queensland’s cruise ship industry for our Covid-19 Economic Recovery Plan,” the Premier said.
“P&O’s Pacific Explorer is the first large cruise ship to sail into Brisbane since the pandemic and the first to berth at the new International Cruise Terminal.
“The $177 million Brisbane International Cruise Terminal was completed in 2020, during the pandemic.
“Having the new international terminal ready to go puts Queensland in a good position to become Australia’s cruise ship capital.
“More cruise ship destinations than any other Australian state and great winter weather makes Queensland the obvious choice to lead cruising’s relaunch.
“We’ve worked closely with NSW, Victoria, the Federal Government and the industry to develop consistent protocols to get cruise ships back in the water.
“These protocols put in place minimum standards for managing Covid and keeping passengers safe.”
Queensland has 14 cruise ship ports and anchorages with the new $177 million Brisbane International Cruise Terminal now capable of docking the largest cruise vessels in the world.
Cruise Ship itineraries over the next six months includes Cairns, the Whitsundays, Willis Island, Port Douglas, Gladstone and Townsville.
The Quantum of the Seas is scheduled to berth in Brisbane later in 2022 and Cairns in January 2023, while the Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2 are planning visits to Brisbane, Airlie Beach, Cairns and Port Douglas next summer.
President of Carnival Australia and P&O Cruises Australia Marguerite Fitzgerald said Queensland would be at the forefront of the industry’s revival.
“Queensland is going to look a lot like the epicentre of cruising in Australia as the cruise industry continues to rebuild after an absence of more than two years,” Ms Fitzgerald said.
“In coming months, it will look like a near normal cruise season with the combination of ships based in Brisbane or making calls there or to other attractive Queensland destinations.
“All of this activity is great news for suppliers, tour operators and other key parts of the cruising ecosystem.”
Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said before the pandemic, cruise ships in Queensland waters contributed $1 billion to the State’s economy.
“Cruise ships have traditionally worked with Queensland tourism operators in ports-of-call to develop onshore guided tour itineraries for passengers,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
“That’s set to become another important sign of economic recovery in Queensland’s favourite visitor destinations.
“When cruise ship passengers discover a world-class visitor destination, they’re more likely to return for a longer stay.
“Changes to the way cruise ships have been operating overseas since the pandemic are also likely to deliver more business for suppliers in key Queensland ports.
“More focus on buying local means more cruise ship demand for Queensland-grown fruit, vegetables, meat and other supplies in places like Cairns, Gladstone and Townsville.
“Buying local Queensland produce is important step in rebuilding the cruise ship industry’s $1 billion contribution to regional Queensland economies.” Port of Brisbane CEO Neil Stephens said today was historic.
“It’s been a long wait but we are really proud to have finally welcomed the Pacific Explorer here to the Brisbane International Cruise Terminal,” he said.
“It was a fantastic sight to see the Pacific Explorer alongside the BICT wharf and then watch hundreds of passengers stream through the facility on their visit to Brisbane.
“Today was a great start and a really exciting indicator of what’s to come.”
Under new eastern seaboard health protocols, cruise ship passengers must be fully vaccinated for Covid-19 and return a negative COVID test before boarding.