In Depth: Interview: Megaships to Call on Brisbane’s New Cruise Terminal by 2019/20 Season

Artist’s Impression

Cruising ‘Down Under’ is yet to be given a new flavor as Queensland readies to attract giant cruise ships with a new cruise terminal. Namely, Australia’s Port of Brisbane has embarked on a project aimed at tapping Queensland’s abundant cruise potential by proposing to develop a AUD 100 million cruise facility for Brisbane and South-east Queensland at the mouth of the Brisbane River.

Currently there is no dedicated cruise facility in Brisbane able to cater for mega cruise ships. However, as the cruise shipping giants invest in ever larger and more complex ships, the port saw a window of opportunity in this segment, especially as over 60 percent of cruise ships visiting the port by 2020 are projected to be of this size.

According to initial estimates, the cruise terminal has the potential to triple the size of Brisbane’s cruise industry.

The Queensland Government has granted the port stage 1 approval for the facility, and during the project’s second stage the port will undertake environmental and technical investigations, progress design and engineering work.

World Maritime News spoke with Roy Cummins, Port of Brisbane CEO, to learn more about the current activities on the project along with the port’s plans for the future.

WMN: Latest media reports said that the port of Brisbane expects to have the approval for the beginning of the construction of its new AUD 100 million cruise ship terminal by the end of the year in order to start building it early in 2018 and allowing it to be finished by late 2019. Are these projections true and how far along are the preparation activities?

Cummins: The Port of Brisbane will be making a submission to the Government in the near future for assessment. This will allow the progression of the planning stages of the project. If approved, engineering and preliminary design work will begin.

We expect to be in a position to seek final approvals later this year and if successful, we expect the terminal to be operational during the 2019/20 cruise season.

WMN: In the second stage of the project the port is expected to carry out detailed design and all required environmental and technical investigations. Are there any environmental or technical concerns that might compromise the project?

Cummins: The Port of Brisbane has already been able to conduct several environmental and technical investigations. To date we have not encountered any issues or concerns that cannot be dealt with in the normal course of site development.

WMN: What impact will the new cruise terminal have on the cruise industry of Queensland?

Cummins: Queensland currently does not have a dedicated cruise ship terminal capable of handling ‘mega’ cruise ships. As cruising becomes more popular, ships are becoming bigger.

Already, mega cruise ships cannot navigate their way upriver in Brisbane. Our proposal provides Brisbane with a dedicated mega cruise ship facility at the mouth of the Brisbane River to service all of South East Queensland tourism. The location is in close proximity to both domestic and international airports yet is sufficiently clear of the port’s day-to-day cargo handling activities.

WMN: With LNG-powered cruise ships entering the market, do you plan to have LNG bunkering bases in the port? Any plans for the new terminal to offer LNG bunkering?

Cummins: We are working closely with cruise line customers to understand their fuel requirements, including alternative fuels, and those considerations will be made during the design process.

WMN: The port welcomed its first 8,500 TEU class boxship in December 2016 as part of its ongoing efforts to enhance its navigational channel to allow for the arrival of bigger ships. How would you assess the demand for berthing this size of ships in the port? 

Cummins: The Port of Brisbane is determined to ensure we are not the limiting factor on the east coast of Australia when it comes to catering for the larger vessels commonly used by the major shipping lines, and we recently demonstrated this by successfully welcoming an 8,500 TEU ship.

We expect, over time, that ships of this size will become more common in Australian waters, therefore it is important we are equipped to cater for them.

WMN: Seeing that the industry is becoming ever more eager to cut its carbon footprint, what activities has the port of Brisbane taken or plans to take in this respect?

Cummins: Protecting our environment is a key focus for the Port of Brisbane.

We have a leading offsite stormwater treatment project upstream from the Port, which is reducing the amount of sediment run-off entering the Brisbane River.

We have built two office buildings that have been rated 5 Green Star by the Green Building Council Australia and include a number of energy efficiency features.

All new street lighting is LED and older fluorescent lighting is being retrofitted with LED. Numerous improvements have been made to our dredge vessel the TSHD Brisbane including improved autopilot navigation systems, improvements to propellers, engine replacement and many others upgrades which have substantially cut fuel usage.

We have also installed 180kW of solar panels and we are investigating even larger renewable energy investments at the Port.

Article prepared by Jasmina Ovcina, Erna Penjic and Naida Hakirevic

Image Courtesy: Port of Brisbane

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