The Observer was given a special VIP tour of the MS Noordam last year. It was the first Holland America cruise liner to dock in Gladstone.
The Observer was given a special VIP tour of the MS Noordam last year. It was the first Holland America cruise liner to dock in Gladstone. Matt Taylor GLA091218SHIP

Gladstone's 'world class cruise plaza' to cause a splash

WHILE yesterday marked the Pacific Eden's last ever visit to Gladstone, the city is expected to be a major port of call for cruises this year.

With the anticipated East Shores Stage 1B precinct and Day Trip to the Reef project, Gladstone Area Promotion and Development Limited chief executive Darryl Branthwaite said the city was on its way to becoming a revered cruise destination.

"We'll end up with a $70million development including what's already in place," Mr Branthwaite said.

"It'll be a world-class cruise plaza as a jump off point for the passengers and the crew (and) there will also be jumping off points to get to the reef.

"It'll be something the whole region will be incredibly proud of and will be a talking point among the cruise industry."

Mr Branthwaite said day trips to the reef were expected to start within three months and would initially align with cruise arrivals to enhance visitor experience.

He hoped the projects would also attract more operators.

"We're hoping we'll end up having a sustainable business case to operate on a regular basis even without the cruise ships being here," he said.

"There are other cruise companies watching on to see how this day trip (project) develops ... if they're coming from Sydney or Melbourne they won't need to travel all the way up the coast to get to the reef if we've got an access point."

He said more ships and an influx of passengers would have an obvious positive impact on the local economy.

"They can always walk along the street up to the main street to boutiques, bars, galleries," he said.

According to the Australian Cruise Association's 2017-18 annual report, in the 2016-17 year Gladstone was visited by cruises on seven days.

So far, 15 ships are scheduled to dock at the Auckland Point terminal this year.

"The MS Albatros is coming in (for the first time). It's a European ship and they're going through to Taiwan so we'll be seeing different sorts of people on that," Mr Branthwaite said.



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