New Zealand has been able to manage the spread of COVID-19 incredibly well over the last year. With only 60+ active cases at this time, it is one of the few countries in the world where life seems to be able to carry on reasonably normally.
However, that doesn’t mean that cruises on a large scale will be happening anytime soon. P&O Australia, one of the largest cruise operators to the isolated nation, has today canceled all voyages on and before April 25, 2021.
Over the last years, New Zealand has become more and more popular with mainstream cruises. Up to June 2020, the country registered over 900 port calls from various ships, while cruise passengers’ diversity and nationality have been growing as well as the country becomes more and more popular with both US and Asian passengers.
The popularity of the country as a cruise destination comes as no surprise. With stunning natural beauty and incredible sights, the country is something that has been a bucket list item for many.
Full Cruise Season Will Only Happen In 2022
In a press release, P&O Australia stated today that there would only be a full cruise season in New Zealand in 2022 at the earliest. Cruises to New Zealand were initially scheduled to start as early as February 6, 2021, making it one of the few countries where cruising on larger ships would have taken place.
Pacific Explorer‘s voyages were already paused until March 4, 2021, this has been pushed back to April 25, 2021. P&O Australia will only schedule a 150-day season in New Zealand starting July 2022.
According to P&O Australia President Sture Myrmell, the future is bright, but the time isn’t right just yet to start operations:
“We know that much better days lie ahead, and we remain positive about the resumption of cruising. As we work towards this goal, we wanted to provide our Kiwi guests with as much certainty as possible and flexibility around their 2021 bookings and an opportunity to reschedule their cruise holiday for 2022 or beyond.”
P&O will make contact with guests whose cruises have been affected, either directly or via their appointed travel agent, to let them know of this development and the options available to them.
Guests who have not yet received an offer in response to a cruise that was canceled during P&O’s pause in operations are entitled to a full refund or bonus onboard credit if they choose a future cruise credit.
It’s not all bad news
Although the further pause in operations will come as a disappointment for many, there is good news as well regarding P&O Australia. On the company’s Facebook page President Sture Myrwell stated that Former Princess Cruises ships Pacific Adventure (ex-Golden Princess) and Pacific Encounter (ex-Star Princess) are on schedule for delivery mid-2021.
Pacific Encounter will call Brisbane its homeport, while Pacific Adventure will be sailing from Sydney. Pacific Adventure is currently scheduled to begin sailing from Sydney on April 30, 2021, while Pacific Encounter is due from May 7 – although additional voyages may be added earlier, depending on the timing of the return of cruising in Australia.
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