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500-day countdown to colossal cruise boost

Townsville’s tourism industry is gearing up for a major boost with just 500 days until the city begins welcoming the Large Class of cruise liners, which will carry up to three-times as many passengers into the city as previous visiting vessels. P&O Australia will lead the charge with their first vessel, Pacific Encounter, set to arrive on 20 January 2025 closely followed by sister ship, Pacific Explorer. The visits will be first of many Large Class cruise ships docking in Townsville, as the Port increases the size of vessels able to access the port from 238m to 300m once the $251 million Channel Upgrade is complete. Port of Townsville CEO Ranee Crosby said the channel widening had been pivotal in attracting larger cruise vessels to Townsville. “Pacific Encounter and Pacific Explorer will be the largest cruise ships Townsville has seen to date and will be carrying more than 4500 passengers and 2000 crew between them,” Ms Crosby said. "This milestone heralds a new era of maritime tourism for the region, promising to boost the local economy and offer visitors an unparalleled experience to explore our region right throughout the year. “Townsville is preparing for its busiest cruise season yet in 2023/2024 with 18 vessels to visit our Port – and this will increase year on year once we can facilitate Large Class cruise ships. The team attended the Australian Cruise Association Conference last week (30 August – 1 September) and the enthusiasm for Townsville among the cruise industry was palpable.” To date, eight Large Class vessels from six major cruise companies are scheduled to visit Townsville from 2025. In preparation for the arrival of larger cruise ships in just 500 days, the Port of Townsville is working with Townsville Enterprise, Townsville City Council and local tourism and retail operators to enhance the city’s offerings for a new demographic of cruisers. Townsville Enterprise Director of Visitor Economy and Marketing, Lisa Woolfe said local tour operators were refining their products to cater for the influx of families and multi-generational tourists the Large Class ships would bring. “We know our cruise guests will be Up for Unexpected and we are working closely with tour operators to ensure guests can explore the best of our region, from rainforest to reef, islands to outback,” Ms Woolfe said. “Cruise is an important and growing sector for our local tourism industry, with passengers and crew each spending an average of $200 a day in the region, across tourism experiences, retail, dining, transport services and more. “We look forward to welcoming larger cruise ships into Townsville and continuing to grow this sector.”   FAST FACTS:  CHANNEL UPGRADE: Port of Townsville is now more than 70 per cent of the way through its $251 million Channel Upgrade project. The shipping channel is being widened from 92m to 180m at the Port end, tapering to 120m at the seaward end. Upon completion in 2024, the Port will increase its vessel length limit from 238 metres to 300 metres, allowing for larger cruise, cargo and defence ships to enter the Port.   CRUISE CAPACITY Port of Townsville is preparing to welcome cruise ships up to 300m long from 1 December 2024 for Aussie Summer The first Large Class cruise ship, P&O Australia’s Pacific Encounter, is set to arrive in 500 days on 20 January 2025. Pacific Encounter will be carrying up to 2600 passengers and 1100 crew. Eight cruise ships over 238m long, from six cruise lines are booked to visit Townsville throughout 2025 and 2026. Large Class cruise ships will bring a new demographic of cruise passengers to Townsville. Currently the Port welcomes luxury-class Small and Small-Mid cruise vessels with passengers coming predominantly for the US, UK, Canada, Germany, Australia and Switzerland. Large Class vessels will carry mostly Australian and New Zealand passengers, often travelling as multigenerational family groups.

Townsville Port puts pedal to the metal on car imports
Townsville Port puts pedal to the metal on car imports

Port of Townsville has completed construction of a new $3.6 million laydown area just in time for a record shipment of new motor vehicles this week. More than 1,700 cars will pull into port aboard three car carriers coming from manufacturers in Japan and Thailand. The number of vehicles arriving over two days is more than the Port would typically see in a full month, and places Townsville 18 per cent ahead of its motor vehicle import figures for the same time last year. Port of Townsville General Manager Customer, Safety and Operations Drew Penny said the Port was expecting motor vehicle imports to continue accelerating over the coming months. “The uplift is being driven by a shift in supply chains as car manufacturers begin to recognise the time and cost-saving benefits that can be unlocked by transhipping vehicles through Townsville,” Mr Penny said. “The Townsville Port offers excellent road connectivity, not just to our regional neighbours but many other parts of the country and this is proving a competitive advantage for us.” A record single-carrier 1,381-vehicle shipment is among this week’s trio of deliveries and is perfectly timed with the Port placing the finishing touches on a new $3.6 million laydown area just days prior to its arrival. “The new laydown will add to our existing storage areas used for motor vehicles, project cargo and renewables,” Mr Penny said. “As our Port prepares for three-fold trade growth to 2050, we are continuing to invest in new and optimised infrastructure. The timeliness of laydown completion and commissioning couldn’t be better and it is excellent to see our investments bearing results so quickly.” In 2022-2023 motor vehicle imports through the Port of Townsville grew 12 per cent on the previous financial year. While the increase had initially been due to continuing catch-up from Covid-19 lags, transhipments are now happening regularly and appear to be here for the long term.