(5:35 p.m. AEST) — News of Royal Caribbean’s withdrawal of Legend of the Seas from Brisbane has been met with dismay and anger by Queensland cruisers, who believe the city needs to make the proposed new cruise terminal a higher priority.
“Typical. I blame the poor facilities. If we had a better terminal, we would get more ships,” Leanne M commented on the Cruise Critic Australia Facebook page. Another member, Phil M, said: “You will lose millions of dollars if the bigger ships go elsewhere.”
Ships that are more than 270 metres in length are currently being forced to use a temporary dock in a “cringeworthy” cargo area, with some passengers saying when their ship calls at Brisbane they stay onboard rather than spend the day in the city due to a lack of appropriate transport.
“I emailed Brisbane council to give them feedback as to what the city was missing out on, if they provided an affordable shuttle,” wrote Sandy D. “Their response was, it wasn’t their responsibility but Brisbane Transport Commission. I won’t be going back for a long while.”
Many comments hint that passengers are already considering alternative port possibilities for the future, such as the Gold Coast, Newcastle and Sydney, or even Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
The chief executive of the Port of Brisbane Authority, Roy Cummins, has warned Brisbane is in danger of losing cruise-based business to other ports. “By 2020, mega ships will represent approximately 60 per cent of Brisbane’s vessel calls,” he said, adding that a properly designed facility could contribute $1 billion annually to the economy.
Plans for the new $100-million terminal, to be built at Luggage Point, east of the Gateway Bridge, were launched in February and are now being subjected to detailed environmental and engineering investigations. The terminal is due to be ready to berth ships by 2019 and to receive a projected 1.8 million passengers in its first five years.
However, this is too long a timeline for most cruise passengers, who are becoming increasingly frustrated with the red tape.
“Such a shame,” said June S. “Brisbane is such a wonderful city – great shopping, great places to eat, a beautiful river. I can’t believe that they are not taking advantage of the wonderful city of Brisbane.”
Legend of the Seas is one of the only Royal Caribbean ships that is small enough to dock at Brisbane’s current facility, Portside.
Legend of the Seas’ final season based in Brisbane will be the summer of 2016/17.
“We fully expect to return to home-porting in Queensland in the future,” said Adam Armstrong, managing director, Royal Caribbean Australasia.