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‘Cruising is back’: New Brisbane terminal finally welcomes passengers

After opening in the midst of a disastrous period for the tourism industry, Brisbane’s new international cruise ship terminal finally welcomed its first cruise passengers on Thursday morning.

The $177 million terminal became operational last year, but its use was limited to a COVID-19 vaccination hub and a stop-off for the Royal Australian Navy.

P&O’s Pacific Explorer docking at the new Brisbane International Cruise Ship Terminal on Thursday morning.

P&O’s Pacific Explorer docking at the new Brisbane International Cruise Ship Terminal on Thursday morning.Credit:James D Morgan/Getty

Almost seven years after plans for the new terminal first became public, P&O’s Pacific Explorer was a welcome arrival for Port of Brisbane chief executive, Neil Stephens.

“All I would say is it’s just so good to see a beautiful white cruise ship next to our international cruise terminal, and to really say cruising is back in Queensland,” he said.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the benefits of the revived cruising industry were already being felt.

“We’ve got people today doing day trips around Australia Zoo out to the wineries up at Tambourine Mountain as well,” she said.

“It is absolutely sensational that cruising is back. This is a billion-dollar industry ... and of course, it supports hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs.”

The new terminal was built from a market-led proposal, in which the Queensland government provided land at Luggage Point, on the north bank at the mouth of the Brisbane River.

Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner drew a parallel between the terminal and the 2032 Brisbane Olympic Games, both of which had their genesis in 2015.

Schrinner’s predecessor, Graham Quirk, announced the bid in 2015, following Brisbane’s successful hosting of the G20 leaders’ summit the year before.

“To have two out of two of those things come to life is really exciting,” he said.

“This terminal will be a new gateway for people coming into Queensland, coming into Brisbane, but it will also set us up for that amazing opportunity that is the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“Ten years sounds like a long time away – it’ll come quickly.”

Schrinner said Brisbane was expecting 150 ships to dock at the terminal in the next 12 months.

“Think about the thousands of people that will come off those 150 ships,” he said.

“They’ve done the maths. Each person spends about $387 on average in Brisbane when they get off the ship, so that then flows right out into the local economy, creates jobs, supports local business, and that is an exciting day today for our city.”

Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Brett Fraser said the cruise industry had a pre-pandemic annual value of $1 billion to the state.

“Each cruise visit to Brisbane is worth an estimated $1 million to all of Queensland, and as a state that is home to more than 14 cruise destinations, including Townsville, Gladstone, and Cairns, the return of guest cruising marks a revitalisation of our visitor economy,” he said.