Carnival Gets Conditional Approval for Brisbane Port Deal

Carnival Spirit docked in Sydney

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has granted authorization for an agreement between the Port of Brisbane and Carnival Corporation to develop a new $158 million cruise terminal in Brisbane, subject to two conditions, it said in a statement.

Under the agreement, Carnival will pay a fixed annual amount to the port for 15 years in return for preferential berthing rights at the new terminal.

These include 100 "Foundation Berthing Days" a year, giving Carnival first pick of 100 days at the terminal each year, up to a maximum of four days a week.

"We recognize that the deal with Carnival helps to underwrite the projected $158 million investment for the Port of Brisbane to build the new terminal," ACCC Commissioner Roger Featherston said.

"Brisbane has no dedicated ‘mega’ cruise ship terminal, and the construction of this terminal is expected to increase tourism and deliver a real benefit to the community and the Queensland economy."

"While we understand the important benefits a dedicated cruise ship terminal would bring to Brisbane, we have concerns that parts of the agreement between the Port of Brisbane and Carnival would limit consumer choice and entrench Carnival as the dominant cruise operator in Brisbane for 15 years. That’s why we have approved this agreement with two conditions," Featherston said.

Under the first condition, Carnival will still get its choice of four days each week, but cannot book more than two of the three "weekend" days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) in any given week, which are the most popular and profitable days, the ACCC said. 

"This means one of these premium weekend days will be available to competitors so other cruise operators can compete with Carnival in Brisbane. If no other operator books the third weekend day, Carnival will be allowed to use it," Featherston said.

The second condition of authorization is that if the terminal is expanded in the future to provide a second berth, Carnival cannot be given first right of refusal for an agreement which would give it first choice of days at that berth, the ACCC stated. 

"Our decision means that if a second berth is built, we should see improved competition between cruise lines," Featherston said.

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