After a waiting period of more than two years, longer than any other major cruise destination and homeport, cruising in and from Australia is back. Pacific Explorer, a P&O Australia cruise ship, departed from Sydney with the destination Brisbane.
Pacific Explorer completed a test sailing last week where local authorities and P&O Australia looked at how effective the onboard measures are and finetune the onboard services after a two-year break.
The three-night ‘activation cruise’ departed last Thursday, hosting shoreside staff, suppliers, and travel agents.
It’s All Smiles For P&O Australia
After suffering disappointment after disappointment over the last two years, P&O Australia finally has something to smile about after its flagship cruise liner set sail from Sydney Harbour today.
Pacific Explorer became the first cruise ship in 26 months to set sail from an Australian port carrying paying guests.
A momentous occasion not just for the guests but certainly also for the staff and crew members who have been looking forward to this moment for years.
President of Carnival Australia and P&O Cruises Australia Marguerite Fitzgerald said: “Today is an emotional moment in time for so many people who have looked forward to the resumption of cruise operations in Australia and the rebirth of the $5 billion a year cruise industry. The first guest cruise to Brisbane is day one of the resurgence of cruising in this region.”
Before she could embark her first guests, Pacific Explorer sailed on a test cruise, which departed last week.
While it gave the crew and officers a chance to get re-acquainted with the vessel, it also served as an important test case for the onboard COVID-19 prevention implementations:
Marguerite Fitzgerald said: “It’s more than two years since we have delivered a commercial cruise but, on our recent three-night test sailing from Sydney, Pacific Explorer’s onboard team performed brilliantly. You would swear they had never been away and have been eager to welcome our guests onboard who will be just as keen to see our crew again.”
Besides a vaccine mandate for all guests 12 years and older and crew members, guests will also need to show a negative COVID-19 test which can be a self-administered Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) within 24 hrs of boarding or a PCR test within 72 hours of boarding. Masks are necessary only where social distancing is impossible and inside cruise terminals.
Cruising Returns To Australia
Pacific Explorer’s first cruise marks the return of cruising down-under. The cruise industry, worth over 1 billion dollars Australian before the pandemic, will be making that return staggered, giving local authorities and the cruise lines the chance to make the recovery a success.
Pacific Explorer will set sail on the first full-length cruise from Australia on June 14. The ten-night Great Barrier Reef Discovery will sail from Sydney and visit Airlie Beach, Cairns, Willis Island, and Moreton Island.
On June 16, Princess Cruises’ Coral Princess will return to Australia with a three-night Australia Seacation from Brisbane to Brisbane. The Princess cruise ship will homeport at the 2020-constructed, but never used, Brisbane International Cruise Terminal.
From August 27, the second P&O Australia ship, Pacific Encounter, will begin operations, sailing from Brisbane on a seven-night Barrier Reef Discovery, with calls to Airlie Beach, Cairns, and Willis Island, Australia. Pacific Adventure, the third P&O Australia cruise ship will not sail before October 22.
Other ships scheduled to visit Australia this year and next year include Cunard Cruises’ Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria and flagship Queen Mary 2.
On Sunday, October 2, Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Splendor will be back in Australia, sailing from Sydney on a three-night Getaway.