It has been confirmed by the Cruise Lines International Association Australasia (CLIA) that the cruise ban in the country has been extended into April. It comes as cruise lines have already remained on hold down under since the global suspension first started in March 2020.
Australia Extends Ban on Cruises
While cruise operations have already been resuming in the U.S. since the summer of 2021 and in Europe even earlier, the situation in Australia has remained unchanged. CLIA has now confirmed that the country’s ban on cruise ships has been extended to April 17, 2022.
CLIA said, “It has just been confirmed that the ban has been extended to 17 April, which we hope is the last extension. With most larger ships now cancelled through to the end of May, we need the states that have agreed to work with industry to finalise plans, to undertake that work as quickly as possible so that the ban can be lifted, and ships can return by the middle of the year.”
The previous ban announced in December 2021 was set to end on February 17, 2022. At the time, the government said the decision to extend was due to the current health situations in Australia and on advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) and the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer.
Despite cruise ships still not being allowed to resume operations, there has been a significant step forward. During the CBD Summit to explore how Sydney can begin to recover after more than two years of restrictions, there was a discussion between CLIA’s Managing Director, Joel Katz and the Premier of New South Wales, Dom Perrottet.
Along with an announcement from the National Cabinet on the restart of cruise operations, CLIA responded, “CLIA has welcomed last night’s National Cabinet announcement that eastern states, and the federal government will jointly develop plans for cruising’s revival, saying close cooperation with cruise lines would be essential to achieving a careful and successful resumption. Though the cruise ban may be extended, we can now see hope for thousands of Australians whose livelihoods depend on cruise tourism.”
Katz has been a crucial part of pushing for a cruise resumption in Australia and has been urging the authorities to follow other major cruise markets by safely allowing ships to resume with protocols in place.
What’s Next for Cruises in Australia?
The extended ban to April 17 will likely be the final one. However, multiple cruise lines have already canceled sailings in the country far beyond that date. It would take approximately three months for cruise ships to prepare to restart due to the logistics involved and, of course, getting all the crew back onboard from their home countries.
“Regardless, it will take several months to prepare ships for their return, so we now need these state governments to undertake this work as a matter of urgency and sign off on industry protocols as soon as possible so we can see the ban lifted, and begin a careful and responsible revival of cruise tourism in Australia,” CLIA said in a statement.
The cruise industry in Australia has been hit hard since the pandemic hit. It would take a considerable effort to get back into service. P&O Australia, the largest cruise line based in the country, has already canceled all departures through May 28, 2022. The first ship in the fleet is scheduled to resume from Sydney on June 1, 2022, and from Brisbane on June 4, 2022.
Carnival Cruise Line recently announced that its’ two long-term Australian-based vessels, Carnival Spirit and Carnival Splendor, would be redeployed to the U.S. Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises have also canceled sailings down under.
It’s now up to the government to go through the plans submitted by CLIA on a safe return to cruise operations. There will be strict protocols in place, just like in other countries such as the U.S., where cruise ships have been sailing safely for many months.