“Over the past few years Cairns has attracted between 30 to 40 cruise ships a year, but that figure is now up to 50 to 60. In 2017 we expect 60 ships,” said Ports North Chairman Russell Beer.
Among the news is the Pacific Eden from P&O Cruises, which will homeport 11 times in Cairns, offering sailings to the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.
“We have been increasingly targeting overnight calls, with cross-promotion of many significant shore tours that easily justify two-day calls to Cairns,” said Beer.
“The heritage-listed rainforests, the Great Barrier Reef and the Tablelands region are also major natural draw cards to the area,” he said. “Our city caters to visitors in many ways, with a bustling nightlife, restaurants, bars and events, as well as a stunning waterfront that provides entertainment, night markets and other day-time attractions.”
Cairns has historically been a seasonal cruise port, but the business is now year-round with ship calls each month, said Beer. The Cairns Shipping Development Project is an ambitious scheme to drive this further, and calls for deepening and widening the existing navigational channel, as well as upgrading piers to allow bigger ships to dock.
“Located right next to the central business district, cruise passengers simply step off the ship and through our cruise terminal and into the city,” Beer added.