Passengers enjoying the opulence on one of the world’s newest cruise liners were forced to wade across a flooded tarmac of the grain terminal this morning as Cunard’s Queen Victoria docked in Brisbane.
One dismayed passenger asked a waiting photographer: “Who’s going to pay for my shoes?”
Passengers on the Queen Victoria are used to five-star surroundings. The best cabins cost up to $5400 a night. The cheapest are $810.
Betty and John Martin were among those to brave ankle-deep water at the grain terminal.
The West Australian couple said Brisbane’s arrival berth could use improving.
“If they are going to have big ships here all the time then they need to get a better place,” Mrs Martin said. (Tonight, some motorists who’d driven to Luggage Point to watch the vessel depart were also hoping for a better place after their cars became bogged in the mud).
Like many modern cruisers, the QV is too tall to fit under the Gateway Bridge, so travellers had to disembark into a marquee before making the 30-minute bus trip to Brisbane city.
Carnival Australia’s chief executive officer Ann Sherry said if Brisbane were to make the most of the booming growth in cruise travel another terminal had to be built on the Bay side of the Gateway Bridge.
Already Vietnam and other Asian ports were building new terminal facilities in a bid to increase the number of ships visiting their ports.
Today, as passengers on the Oriana disembarked at Hamilton to a modern facility, those on Queen Victoria were greeted with vistas of the grain berth silos and a busy port.
Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive officer Daniel Gschwind said the visit was a showcase event for Brisbane and Queensland and more must be done to make a better impression.
“We have to be professional about every aspect of the tourism industry,” Mr Gschwind said.
“Portside is a good facility but the reality is some ships won’t fit.”
“If we don’t have suitable facilities, temporary or otherwise, then Brisbane will be left out of scheduling.”
Ms Sherry planned to use a VIP lunch with Premier Anna Bligh and Transport Minister Paul Lucas to discuss facilities for cruise ships.
She would like to see a new purpose built facility either at Fishermans Island or on a site adjoining the cement works on the opposite side of the river.
“The scale of what we’re doing has crept up on the Government,” Ms Sherry said.
The Queen Victoria docked today at the Fisherman Islands container terminal at the mouth of the Brisbane River, about 20km from the city centre.
The berth offered a less than glamorous view for the liner’s more than 2000 guests, who travel in luxury with an 830-seat theatre, conservatory with retractable glass roof and grand ballroom.
A new cruise ship terminal was opened at Hamilton, in Brisbane’s inner-north, in 2006, complete with shops and restaurants.
But the Queen Victoria – at 90,000 tonnes and 20 storeys high – could not fit under the Gateway Bridge in order to dock there.
Cunard shipping bosses questioned the location of the Hamilton terminal, saying it was built on the wrong side of the bridge to be of benefit to large ships.
Premier Anna Bligh said the terminal’s operators decided its location on the basis of commercial feasibility at the time.
“We’ve now got significantly more numbers of very large ships and it’s something that will have to be incorporated in the future,” Ms Bligh told reporters in Brisbane today.
“We have a world-class cruise terminal, unfortunately not every ship of every size can access it, but it is something that is seeing ships on a very regular basis and will continue to into the future.”
Ms Bligh said there was no indication that shipping companies were considering avoiding Brisbane because of unsuitable facilities.