More than 4.6 million people have sailed onboard cruise ships worldwide. However, none of those have been on board an international cruise ship operating from an Australian port. Further uncertainty regarding the government’s plans to restart cruises within Australian waters leads cruise operators to postpone cruises even further.
One of those is P&O Australia, which has decided to extend its operations pause until March 3, 2022.
Although more positive noises have been coming from the Australian government in recent weeks about cruises being able to restart down-under, it’s not enough for P&O Australia. The cruise line recently cancelled cruises out of Adelaide, Fremantle, and Cairns and postponed cruises between February 15 and March 3, 2022, sailing from Sydney and Brisbane.
Guests will once again be disappointed by the steps P&O Australia has been forced to take. It is a cancelation that is the next in a long line of postponements that the cruise line has been forced to make in the last two years. Even though the Australian government has been giving off positive vibes towards restarting, it would take the industry significant time to be operational again.
P&O Cruises Australia President Sture Myrmell: “Recent speculation about the lifting of the ban on cruise ships has been encouraging, but uncertainty continues around the resumption of cruising in Australia. Given this difficult situation, we wanted to treat our loyal guests with respect and to provide certainty in relation to their much-anticipated cruise holiday plans as well as limit any inconvenience for them.
With more than 80% of the cruise industry expected to be sailing towards the end of the year, Australia and New Zealand remain one of the areas worldwide that have neglected to open up cruising, even for locals only.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Managing Director Australasia Joel Katz: “Worldwide, more than 70% of CLIA cruise line ocean-going ships are back in operation and we expect that figure to reach 80% in December. Although we’ve made enormous progress in other countries, in Australia and New Zealand international cruise operations are still suspended and tens of thousands of jobs are in doubt while we have no clear indication from governments on a path to revival,”
The question on many people’s minds is when cruising will return to Australia, especially now that the rest of the world seems to be returning to normal. The issue here is the same as the United States experienced earlier this year.
With the uncertainty and lack of a clear pathway, the cruise lines are forced to wait for the Australian government for any news. This means that they cannot start with preparations for bringing ships back to operations.
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Sture Myrmell: “Once a return to service and accompanying protocols become clear, it will take us several months to manage the complex logistics necessary to return a ship into operation and sail to Australian waters. Steps include engaging our crew and re-training them to meet new operating protocols once known, as well as re-stocking the ship, and finalizing our entertainment line-up.
The emergence of the new Omicron variant could potentially throw a spanner in works. Only a few weeks ago cruise ship representatives and representatives of New South Wales held a meeting that seemed to bring cruises back in February of next year.
According to some reports the announcement for this has now been postponed as the Australian government fears the arrival and spread of the new strain.
Once cruises do resume down, they will be available only to guests and crew members who have been fully vaccinated, while testing procedures will also be strictly implemented.