PORT of Townsville is counting the days until the first big cruise ship arrives after the completion of its Channel Upgrade Project.

The first big cruise vessel to arrive at the port, the Pacific Encounter, is set to arrive on 20 January 2025, followed by the Pacific Explorer.

The visits will be first of many larger cruise ships arriving in Townsville as the port increases the size of vessels able to access the port from 238 metres to 300 metres once the $251 million Channel Upgrade Project is complete.

Port of Townsville CEO Ranee Crosby said the channel widening had been pivotal in attracting larger cruise vessels to Townsville.

Pacific Encounter and Pacific Explorer will be the largest cruise ships Townsville has seen to date and will be carrying more than 4500 passengers and 2000 crew between them,” Ms Crosby said.

“This milestone heralds a new era of maritime tourism for the region, promising to boost the local economy and offer visitors an unparalleled experience to explore our region right throughout the year.”

Ms Crosby said the port is preparing for the 2023-24 season with 18 vessels scheduled to visit the port.

To date, eight big cruise vessels are scheduled to visit Townsville from 2025.

In preparation for the arrival of larger cruise ships in just 500 days, the Port of Townsville is working with Townsville Enterprise, Townsville City Council and local tourism and retail operators to enhance the city’s offerings for a new demographic of cruisers.