Reports that the luxury cruise liner, Queen Elizabeth, was forced to leave Port Douglas early to undergo customs’ clearance in Yorkey’s Knob have been denied by the ship's company, Cunard.
David Jones of Cunard's corporate affairs department said the ship adhered to its schedule despite reports that passengers were asked to re-board by 2.30pm.
"Queen Elizabeth was due to leave Port Douglas at 4pm, she actually left at 5pm and came to Yorkey's Knob which was always intended for the normal customs clearance."
On Monday, one local business owner claimed passengers from the ship told her they were required to depart earlier than expected, while another had said day tours had been cancelled as a result.
They are claims supported by Tourism Port Douglas and Daintree executive officer, Doug Ryan, who said he also spoke to a passenger who told him they were preparing for an early departure.
"Customs wouldn't clear anyone out of Port Douglas. The ship had to steam back to Cairns and then back past Port Douglas," he said.
Mr Ryan said that a positive response was received from passengers who were greeted at the marina, with a caller to John McKenzie's AM radio show saying Cairns could learn from its northern neighbour.
Meanwhile, around 900 passengers on another cruise ship, the Arcadia, were left at Yorkey's Knob for almost two hours while buses were being organised for their transportation into Cairns.
ABC News reported that Tourism Tropical North Queensland came under fire for inadequately catering for the passenger transfers which left them with limited time in the city.
"...a lot of regular comments were that Cairns was the worst port that they'd been in, which I was very embarrassed by," tour operator Leigh Jorgensen told ABC News.
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