BIG BERTH: Port works to court cruise ships
PLANS to upgrade the Auckland Point cruise ship terminal using state budget funding will position Gladstone to attract some of the world's biggest cruise ships.
That's according to GAPDL CEO Darryl Branthwaite, who said the upgrades would catch the eye of cruise ship operators that previously wouldn't consider stopping at the port city.
The current facility can only accommodate cruise ships up to 300 metres long.
"Currently that is a hurdle for the likes of Royal Caribbean cruise liners such as Ovation of the Seas which is 348m long, whereas Pacific Explorer which visited recently is 260m and our next ship, Carnival Spirit, due in Gladstone on June 24, is 293m long," Mr Branthwaite said.
"It's imperative that this (upgrade) happens if Gladstone wants to continue to grow this market."
Last week's state budget allocated $14.3 million for fendering and wharf strengthening at Auckland Point berth 1, with $630,000 made available in 2019-20.
Gladstone Ports Corporation acting CEO Craig Walker said those works would be completed within a year.
"Within the 2019/20 financial year, a total of $630,000 has been budgeted for electrical upgrades at Auckland Point Berth 1, expected to be completed by June 2020," Mr Walker said.
"This parcel of work is complementary to a number of improvement projects intended to enhance and support the growing cruise ship industry in Gladstone.
"In the coming years further works to the berth, including wharf strengthening and fendering improvements have been identified to allow for increased numbers of cruise ships visiting the Port of Gladstone."
Mr Branthwaite said attracting regular Royal Caribbean cruise liner visits would be a coup for Gladstone.
"We know that Royal Caribbean, and others, are watching on to see what happens, and once the commitment has been made, with timelines locked in, they will certainly be rehearsing their movements and docking procedures via a simulator in readiness for future visits," he said.
"There are exciting times ahead for our city and region. Now we just need to keep growing the experiences here for a passenger to ensure that they leave with memories which will last a lifetime."