Immigration Clearance Delays Princess Cruise Departures

Guests booked onboard Royal Princess will be heading to the vessel a little later on upcoming cruises due to increased immigration checks.

Guests planning to embark on Royal Princess for its upcoming New Zealand cruises face revised embarkation times due to extended immigration processing times.

Princess Cruises has announced a two-hour delay in the departure times for two of its cruises set to sail from Sydney, Australia. 

Extended Immigration Processing Impacts Royal Princess Schedule

Passengers booked for cruises on the Royal Princess have been informed of changes to their travel plans. Princess Cruises has issued a letter advising that due to extended immigration processing times for disembarking guests from previous voyages, the departure times for upcoming cruises from Sydney, Australia, have been delayed by two hours.

This adjustment affects guests on at least two Royal Princess cruises: one departing on February 5 and the other on February 18. The revised schedule now includes a 6:00 PM departure from Sydney, instead of the originally planned 4:00 PM. 

Consequently, check-in for these cruises will now commence at 3:00 PM. Guests with pre-cruise arrangements through Princess Cruises will be guided accordingly, while those with independent travel plans are advised to arrive at the pier according to the updated check-in times.

Royal Princess Cruise Ship in Tauranga, New Zealand
Royal Princess Cruise Ship in Tauranga, New Zealand (Photo Credit: Nate Hovee)

The itineraries for the affected Royal Princess cruises are both a 13-night voyage showcasing New Zealand, including stops at Fjordland National Park, Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Tauranga, Auckland, and the Bay of Islands. 

Probable Causes for the Delay

The delay in the Royal Princess schedule is primarily attributed to extended immigration processing for disembarking guests from the prior cruise. This situation is likely complicated by the ship’s dual embarkation points: Sydney and Auckland.

Princess Cruises runs two cruises simultaneously onboard Royal Princess. One 13-night cruise starting and ending in Sydney, Australia, and one 13-night cruise starting and ending in Auckland, New Zealand. 

As guests boarding in Auckland need to be cleared into Australia, this adds a layer of complexity to the immigration process.

There is speculation that recent changes in Australia’s immigration procedures could affect other cruise ships as well. This includes additional screening for guests on board cruise ships where the cruise started in countries other than Australia, as is the case with Royal Princess.

Royal Princess in Auckland
Royal Princess in Auckland (Photo Credit: Princess Cruises)

Also Read: Australia’s Cruise Industry Poised for Unprecedented Growth

There has also been talk about increased health screenings for guests ages 75 and up, who need additional health checks before being allowed into Australia. If this is indeed the case, the impact could extend beyond Royal Princess, potentially affecting several other cruise ships operating in the region. 

Cruise ships sailing in Australian waters in the coming month that might experience similar issues include Quantum Of The Seas, Disney Wonder, Ovation Of The Seas, Grand Princess, Queen Elizabeth, Seabourn Odyssey, Resilient Lady, and Carnival Splendor.

The delays experienced by the Royal Princess highlight a growing concern in the industry involving cruises between Australia and New Zealand.

In the past year, several cruise ships have been denied entry to New Zealand due to strict bio-security measures, all originating in Australia. With extended immigration procedures making life a little harder again, cruises between the two countries are becoming harder to organize.

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