Australia Scraps Vaccination Requirements for Cruises

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The Australian cruise industry looks forward to a potential boost as vaccination and mask requirements are on the way out. The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee agreed with the New South Wales state government to scrap COVID-19 mandates for cruise ships.

It signals a significant change in the cruising landscape across the country and brings Australia’s cruise protocols in line with other parts of the world. The country was one of the last major cruise hubs to hold on to the now outdated COVID measures.

NSW Government’s Push to Remove Protocols

NSW Premier Chris Minns has succeeded in removing vaccination and other COVID-related measures that remained in place in Australia, the only country worldwide where these requirements were still active. The Premier believes that they have become outdated and unnecessary. 

On Wednesday, August 23, Premier Minns stated: “Frankly, many of those rules were seemingly arcane and not applied to any other part of life or business in Sydney. Given these restrictions don’t apply to airports and other parts of the transport economy, they shouldn’t apply to cruise ships either.”

Ovation of the Seas in Sydney
Photo Courtesy: Royal Caribbean

The rules, which remain in place across the eastern seaboard and in Western Australia, have hindered the billion-dollar tourism industry.

It will be up to individual state governments to make the new protocols official. However, this will likely happen soon, with the National Health Committee already giving the okay.

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee officially confirmed to CLIA Australia they would rescind the current guidelines as of 25 August 2023.

Unvaccinated passengers can book their cruises this weekend, although the committee will continue to uphold recommendations for isolation for those who have COVID.

“The cruise industry’s top priority will continue to be the health and safety of guests, crew and the communities we visit,” Joel Katz of CLIA said. “Cruise lines will continue to abide by their own robust health and safety measures and hygiene standards, and the industry will work closely with health authorities into the future.”

Carnival Splendor in Sydney
Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line

Read Also: Australia Will Finally End its Cruise Ship Ban in April

Premier Minns is hopeful that other states will follow NSW’s lead and believes that the removal of these mandates will signal to international visitors that life is returning to normal in the region.

The New South Wales Department of Premier and Cabinet has confirmed that the current COVID restrictions for cruising are on the way out.

Cruise Lines and Guests Respond to Potential Changes

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) supports removing these requirements, aiming to bring Australia in line with other jurisdictions. 

Joel Katz: “This brings Australia into line with other countries internationally and gives clarity to cruise passengers ahead of the coming summer cruise season. As the last major cruise destination to maintain cruise-specific measures, Australia’s ongoing cruise protocols had been causing increasing confusion among travelers, particularly as measures on land and at airports had been removed.”

Princess Cruise Ship in Sydney, Australia
Photo Credit: Logutenko / Shutterstock.com

Removing these regulations could be a critical turning point for Australia’s cruise industry, aligning it with global standards and boosting economic growth. It also presents opportunities for families who may have hesitated to vaccinate younger members for cruising purposes.

As industry representatives and potential guests welcome the move, there is renewed optimism for cruising in Australia. The country was one of the last to hold out on a restart. As summer approaches, clarity and consistency in regulations will likely be critical factors in navigating the cruise season successfully.

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