After more than two years of being closed to cruise ships, Australia will finally reopen in April 2022. Cruise Lines have already reacted and announced their plans to resume operations from the country.
Australia Cruise Ban is Ending
The Australian government confirmed that the country would not renew the ban on international cruise ships arriving or departing from its ports. It does mean that the ban will come to an end on April 17, 2022, clearing the way for the restart of the cruise industry down under.
The cruise ban in the country was last extended in February 2022 and was previously set to end on February 17.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said, “On the basis of medical advice and with the agreement of National Cabinet, lifting the cruise ban is consistent with the reopening of Australia’s international border and shows that we have successfully navigated Australia’s emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The government has developed protocols to make sure guests and crew members remain safe when cruises resume operations. Cruise ships would have to meet the requirements on a national and local level. Passengers will be required to be fully vaccinated, and cruise ships will have to implement appropriate operating and outbreak management plans.
With cruise lines already operating safely in other major cruise markets such as the US, UK, and Europe, there is now experience with protecting procedures, especially for the big three cruise companies Carnival Corporations, Royal Caribbean Group, and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.
It’s been a long wait for a cruise restart in Australia, which has remained closed to the industry for more than two years since the industry-wide suspension started in March 2020. The cruise ban was part of Australia’s Biosecurity Act 2015.
Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews said, “In 2019, before the pandemic, Australia welcomed more than 600,000 cruise ship passengers across the border from almost 350 vessels.”
Andrews continued, “The cruise ship industry plays an important role in our tourism sector and forms part of the Morrison Government’s plan to bolster our economic growth as we recover from the pandemic. I can’t wait to see our cruise terminals once again filled with arriving international passengers, getting this important industry ship-shape and back out on the water once more.”
Cruise Lines Prepare to Return
Cruise Lines based out of Australia before the cruise ban are set to make a return. Carnival-owned Princess Cruises has confined that Coral Princess will begin sailings from Brisbane in June 2022. The ship will sail roundtrip itineraries ranging from three- to 12-days to Queensland and New South Wales.
Coral Princess will also cruise from Sydney with a 12-day voyage before resuming her previously announced Australia & New Zealand program for the 2022/2023 season.
P&O Australia, which is based out of the country, has also detailed its plans to resume sailings. The cruise line plans to resume at the end of May 2022 with a new 2022 program from Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne.
P&O Cruises President Marguerite Fitzgerald said, “We’ll be working closely with government agencies on our return which will see us visit about 20 ports around the country after an absence of more than two years.”
“Australia has long been one of the world’s strongest cruise markets and as the nation’s only home-grown cruise line we are excited at the thought that our loyal customers will be travelling with us again very soon.”
Pacific Explorer will become the first to restart on May 31, 2022, on a four-night roundtrip cruise from Brisbane. Pacific Adventure will begin her maiden season from Sydney on October 22, 2022. Pacific Encounter will resume on August 20, 2022, from Brisbane.
More cruise lines are expected to announce plans on resuming cruise operations out of Australia in the coming days and weeks.