Cruise ship policy

An updated guide for cruise ships in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park has been adopted for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Cruise Ship Operations within the Great Barrier Reef includes amendments that contribute to the ecologically sustainable access of cruise ships in the Marine Park. These changes follow input from the tourism industry and government agencies.

Cruise ships visit the Marine Park to allow passengers to experience the scenic beauty of this unique World Heritage Area through onboard sightseeing, calls to coastal towns and cities and activities with other tourism operators.

With 95 cruise ship bookings planned across the year, the guide will allow visitors to enjoy the iconic Australian reef region.  

The guidelines allow for protected area managers to advise cruise ship operators, booking agents and tourists about management arrangements and how to best operate in the Marine Park.

Key aspects of the amended guidelines include:

  1. Adopting a joint management approach with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service
  2. Recognising the continuing sea country management and custodianship of the Great Barrier Reef by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Owners
  3. Clarification of the application of the Environmental Management Charge (EMC) to cruise ship operations who are conducting extended tours
  4. Providing policy statements for existing management arrangements in legislation, plans of management and permissions system, and proposing some improvements, which would involve seeking approval for future legislative amendments
  5. Obligations for waste management and ship activities in the Great Barrier Reef.

The draft policy was open for public comment between 16 June 2017 and 14 July 2017. Seven submissions were received and all were generally supportive. The cruise ship operations guidelines were first developed in 1999 to manage cruise ships operating in the Marine Park.  

The guidelines can be accessed here.