An artist’s impression of Luggage Point, Brisbane’s new international cruise terminal, which will be completed by the end of 2020
Australia is an island nation, which makes it ideally suited for cruising. We have more than 40 ports dotted around the coastline, allowing cruise passengers to enjoy a range of experiences in both our metropolitan gateway cities and regional centres. They include everything from wine tastings, cooking classes and farm gate tours, to activities that enable visitors to enjoy Australia’s spectacular landscapes, see unique wildlife or interact with indigenous communities.
Thanks to this abundance of ports and shore excursion opportunities, Australia had been on a strong growth trajectory as a cruise destination for many years. In the 2018-2019 financial year, for example, direct expenditure by passengers, crew and cruise lines totalled AU$2.5 billion (US$1.8 billion). The positive economic impact was felt throughout the country, with many related industry sectors enjoying the benefits too. The only limiting factor was infrastructure. However, when Covid-19 halted cruising, many of the Australian Cruise Association’s (ACA) member ports took the opportunity to complete development projects in preparation for 2021.
The long-awaited international cruise terminal at Brisbane’s Luggage Point will be completed by the end of 2020 and will be ready to accommodate large cruise ships when they resume sailing in Australia. Meanwhile, developments at both Cairns and Gladstone will help complement itineraries in the state of Queensland. And in New South Wales, a new AU$5 million (US$3.6 million) Welcome Centre is being built near the recently completed multimillion-dollar wharf extension in Eden.
ACA has also been working closely with the government and industry partners such as Cruise Lines International Association Australasia, the New Zealand Cruise Association, and our US and European counterparts to help our members develop plans for resuming cruising in Australia. We hope that these efforts will lead to a safe, phased restart early next year, with the industry adhering to all designated health and hygiene requirements.
Initially, we may see local cruises being offered by our regular home-based operators, “cruises to nowhere” or a mix of sea- and land-based itineraries that give guests more time to explore destinations. We also hope international cruise lines will see Australia as a viable year-round cruise destination thanks to the tropical winter temperatures in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland.
There is a strong cruising fraternity which is excited to return to exploring Australia, and we look forward to welcoming them back to our shores.
Jill Abel is CEO of the Australian Cruise Association
This article was first published in the 2020 issue of Cruise & Ferry Itinerary Planning. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.
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