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Brisbane (Photo:Thomas Hansson/Shutterstock)

About Cruising to Brisbane

Brisbane has become increasingly sophisticated over the years yet the Queensland capital still retains its laidback charm. Bustling ferries ply the waters of the Brisbane River and the weather lends itself to outdoor pursuits. If you love the beach, this is the ideal jumping-off point for the Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise which are just an hour away, and the Sunshine Coast, which is two hours to the north. However, the extreme south end of the Great Barrier Reef begins 370kms (about 230 miles) north of the city, so this is not an option for a day out.

The city makes good use of its river as a travel artery and visitors will find the CityCat ferries and other local boat services an ideal and affordable way to reach the most popular museums, botanical gardens, wildlife parks, historic neighbourhoods, lively shopping precincts and riverfront plazas with their variety of restaurants and cafes. Both riverbanks have picturesque walkways that venture far beyond the city limits.

For those who would like to spend the day exploring the city centre, nearly everything is within walking distance, and conveniently placed bridges and small cross-river ferries link both sides. Jaunty red ferries plying the city reaches of the river are free to ride. If you get lost, ask one of the friendly locals for directions.

  • More about Brisbane

  • Why Cruise to Brisbane?

  • Brisbane Cruise Port Facilities?

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More about Brisbane

Why Cruise to Brisbane?


Enjoy outdoor activities in the great weather and relish in the laid-back charm by the Brisbane River


The current terminal for larger ships is 23 kilometers (14 miles) from the city center

Bottom Line:

Ideal for a day of exploring, everything is walking distance or a free ferry ride away

Brisbane Cruise Port Facilities?

Portside Wharf includes an attractive local shopping centre, several bars and restaurants, conference facilities and a cruise ship viewing deck. There is also a CityCat terminal nearby. One of Queensland's most famous historic pubs, the Breakfast Creek Hotel, is also within walking distance. The multi-user freight terminal at the Port of Brisbane is bleak, unattractive and a long way from the city. The new cruise terminal will have limited retail and a cafe for last minute essentials.

Good to Know?

The Australian sun is very powerful, and it's essential to liberally apply sun block on beach days and when spending a lot of time outdoors. Wear a hat, too.

Getting Around?

From Portside Wharf: Cruise lines will likely offer shuttle bus transportation to the city centre. In addition, those that dock at Portside have the option of using the CityCat, a Brisbane city-operated fast ferry that leaves on a regular schedule every 15 minutes from Bretts Wharf -- a 10-minute walk downstream from the ship. Transit time to the city centre is 30 to 45 minutes, depending on your destination, and the fares that you pay onboard are the same as they are for the local transit bus.

Sightseeing from the ferry's forward or aft deck is a delight, and the route passes commercial, residential and cultural districts, travelling through the city as far upstream as the University of Queensland at St. Lucia. A complete round trip takes about two hours and 20 minutes, and the service is heavily used by visitors and local residents. A single ticket lasts two hours and includes transfers to buses. An all-day ticket is also available, cheaper after rush hours and on weekends.

From the Freight Terminal: There is no public transportation. The options are taxis, cruise line shuttles or excursion transportation. While the shuttle might seem expensive, it is the most affordable option if your ship docks here.

From the Brisbane International Cruise Terminal: There are currently no local or state government plans to link the new cruise terminal to public transport options.There will be designated commercial areas for coaches, buses and taxis.

On Foot: City centre streets are named after female British royalty (Adelaide, Elizabeth, Mary and the like) in the east-west direction, and after males (Albert, Edward, George) in the north-south direction. A heritage walking tour guide takes you past some three-dozen notable structures, including the old customs house, former port office, naval offices, immigration depot, Parliament House and the Queensland Club.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

The local currency is the Australian dollar. The largest coin denominations are the tiny, gold-colour two-dollar pieces and the larger, gold-colour one-dollar pieces. (We know that seems backward, so pay extra attention when counting your change.) Check oanada.com or xe.com for the latest exchange rates. The smallest currency is a silver five-cent piece so all prices are rounded to the nearest five-cent increment unless you are paying by credit card. ATMs are located throughout the city and in main shopping areas, such as the Queen Street Mall.


The language is English with an Australian accent. The locals pronounce the city "Briz-bun" or simply say "Brizzie."

Where You're Docked?

Cruise ships currently dock at two different riverfront locations, depending on the heights of their funnels or signal masts. Ships that can clear the Gateway Motorway Bridge, downriver from the city centre, dock at the Brisbane Cruise Terminal, Portside Wharf. Those that are too lofty tie up farther downstream at a freight terminal. A new Brisbane International Cruise Terminal at Luggage Point on the north side of the Brisbane River will open in time for the start of the 2020 cruise season. This terminal is large enough to accommodate ships of all sizes, including mega-ships.

Brisbane Cruise Reviews
I've been to Brisbane a number of times before so took myself off to "The Soul Trembles" exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art. Fabulous. The shuttle bus cost $25 return and drops you off at Anzac Square opposite tRead More
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Brisbane residents... so easy to access for embarkation and disembarkation. No transport/flights required.Read More
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Princess Voyager
We did an excursion to the zoo. A bit of. A drive but so worth it! Saw koalas, Roos, etc Read More
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Heard bad reviews about the port but we found disembarkation fast with friendly staff. Read More
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