Here’s what you need to know about the new Brisbane International Cruise Terminal and Brisbane Cruise Terminal parking. Don’t miss this crucial information and essential details about the location and parking that will surprise and disappoint you!

What you need to know about Brisbane International Cruise Terminal

In the middle of 2020, the brand-new Brisbane International Cruise Terminal (BICT) was finalised, heralding a warm welcome to cruise ships as Southeast Queensland’s inaugural specialized cruise hub. Representing Brisbane’s fresh haven for oceanic getaways, this terminal is accessible solely during cruise ship berthing times. The previous cruise terminal located at Portside Hamilton has since been shuttered, marking a significant transition.

Once you are inside the terminal building, it operates well. However, I found myself searching for shelter, unable to find car parking and stuck with expensive transport fares. Three years after completion, the long drive to the building is through an unguttered, industrial wasteland.  Not a great first impression of Brisbane for travellers.

Here’s my latest cruise review – Ditch Ordinary Life: Cruise from Australia to New Zealand with Princess Cruises for a Dreamy First Time Adventure 

Brisbane International Cruise Terminal dock IMAGE Kerry Heaney

It’s at Pinkenba, not Portside

The first thing you need to know is that the new Brisbane International Cruise Terminal at Pinkenba is easy to confuse with the old Portside Wharf at Hamilton cruise terminal. They are both in the same general direction, but the new terminal is a long way further down the river, on the northern bank right at the naturally deep river mouth at Luggage Point, not far from Brisbane Airport

If you are booking parking or a ride-share app, ensure it displays the correct address. The apps tend to default to the most commonly used destination, which was previously Portside Wharf at Hamilton.

It’s big!

The terminal building is two storeys, with an undercover plaza and outdoor waterfront promenade. There are covered walkways where you can go after getting out of your ride and walk into the terminal.

The 208-metre wharf was built to service the world’s largest cruise ships at the time of opening in 2020. Since then, the ships have increased in size.

Once inside the terminal, passengers go through security screening and immigration. Then you can travel from the terminal building to the vessel via a passenger boarding bridge and a 270m elevated walkway. It’s quite a leisurely stroll.

Inside Brisbane International Cruise Terminal IMAGE Kerry Heaney

Inside Brisbane Cruise Terminal. IMAGE: Kerry Heaney

​How to get to Brisbane International Cruise Terminal

The cruise terminal is located on the north side of the Brisbane River mouth, about 15 minutes’ drive (12 km) from Brisbane Airport and 30 minutes’ drive (21 km) from Brisbane’s CBD. The terminal is close to major arterial roads, such as Kingsford Smith Drive and Gateway Motorway.

There is no public transport to the Brisbane International Cruise Terminal. However, if you are a local, you can book Brisbane Cruise Terminal parking , get a friend to drop you off, or take a taxi or ride share option.

Cruise passengers disembarking in Brisbane will find plenty of taxis and ride-share drivers available. In addition, your cruise ship may provide a city transfer or a city tour option.

Brisbane Cruise Terminal Parking

The terminal has about 900 onsite paid car parking spaces for passengers. Unfortunately, this is not enough to accommodate everyone, so the first thing to do after you book your cruise is book your parking as spaces book out well ahead. Construction has commenced on an additional 340 car parks, and these are expected to be available in 2024. Let’s hope this solves some of the problems.

Parking is available within walking distance of the terminal, and rates start at $32.40 a day. So, for a six-day cruise, you could pay $104.80. The question is whether this is cheaper or more expensive than a taxi or Uber? This will depend on how far you need to travel to reach the terminal.

Convenience is another factor. Having your car when you arrive back from your cruise might be handy. If you decide to drive and park, book early, as there are insufficient parking spaces for passengers on large cruise ships.

There are different types of parking available, with some offering weather protection. Whether this weather protection would save you in a hailstorm must be tested. Please share below if you have thoughts on this.

A cheaper alternative is a shuttle service, where you park further away from the terminal, and the company provides transfers and pick-ups.  You can book in advance with Wilson Parking.

It’s also difficult if you want to visit the terminal for a short period, perhaps to meet some friends.  I suggest you just drive by and pick them up in the loading zone.

If Brisbane is just a stop on your cruise, you should know here is nothing to do at the terminal, and most places you might want to visit, such as Portside or the DFO, are an expensive return Uber or taxi ride away.  For an easy pub lunch, you can call Trade Coast Hotel at Pinkenba on 07 3261426.  They will come and pick you up from the ship and return you after you enjoy lunch at their bistro restaurant.

Brisbane International Cruise Terminal.  IMAGE: Kerry Heaney

Brisbane International Cruise Terminal 2 IMAGE Kerry Heaney

What’s it like to cruise on Quantum of the Seas from Brisbane?

Can you eat there?

There is now a cafe at the terminal that is open at 7 am on cruise days. The Cruise Cafe serves coffee, light meals, snacks and other drinks.

Any shopping?

There are no shopping outlets at the terminal. 

What happens if your cruise ship is delayed docking?

This happened to me when the cruise ship was delayed because of a medical emergency. It’s good to know that a high priority is placed on the health of cruise passengers.

Unfortunately, the late arrival and delay in boarding caused massive problems at the terminal. People were standing in the hot sun in long queues for up to two hours. So if you get a notification that your ship is arriving late, don’t rush to be there early. It really won’t help. You are much better off arriving at the time they suggest and spending less time in a queue.

I wished I had better sun protection, such as a long-sleeved shirt and my hat for the boarding queue.

Getting off the ship

There were no delays in getting off the ship.  I chose to handle my own bags and was able to disembark soon after the ship docked.  It was simple to get through customs and then to the taxi queue.  There were plenty of taxis waiting as the drivers had received an alert that the ship was docking.

More information on Brisbane International Cruise Terminal.

Departing Brisbane International Cruise Terminal at sunset. IMAGE: Kerry Heaney

Sunset Brisbane International Cruise Terminal IMAGE Kerry Heaney