Thousands of Australians have been left disappointed again as another cruise line cancels its voyages well into the new year. Continuing uncertainty about when and how ships will resume cruises have forced several cruise lines to rethink their strategies Down Under.
The current ban on cruise ships is set to expire on December 17, but the Australian government has given no indication that plans are in progress to let ships sail once again or if it will extend the ban. Despite the New South Wales Premier making all the right noises just two weeks ago, it seems cruising in Australia is still a long way off.
Princess Cancels Cruises to Mid-March 2022
Princess Cruises followed P&O Cruises and cancelled all of its voyages in Australian waters to Spring 2022, the cruise line stated: “We are extending our pause in cruise vacations in Australia/New Zealand to March 14, 2022 due to the uncertainty around the timing for a return of cruising in the region.”
The cancellations affect four voyages from January to April, with departures on January 27, February 7 and 21, and March 7 onboard Coral Princess. The cruise line does offer three different choices to guests that had been booked onboard these voyages.
The first option is rebooking to an equivalent cruise which the cruise line lists in their statement. The rebooking offer will protect the guests’ current fares, incentives, and promotions on their recommended replacement cruise if the new cruise fare is higher.
The second option is a Future Cruise Credit with an additional bonus of 10%. Guests should use this on any voyage booked by December 31, 2022, and sailing by April 30, 2023.
Guests also have the option of a full refund of all monies paid to Princess Cruises. Guests should make requests for refunds before November 17, 2021.
The Australian government has been slow to act towards a restart of cruises in the region, despite several politicians saying they would like to see cruises start up again.
More than 1,200 cruise ship visits occurred in 2019 spread over 47 Australian ports, bringing in more than $5 billion to the local economy. The cruise industry supports 18,000 Australian jobs. In other parts of the world, more than 2 million people have sailed onboard cruise ships. Despite these impressive numbers, the action is lacking in Australia.
A Federal Government spokesperson told 9News: “Once 80 per cent vaccination has been reached there is no reason why domestic and international cruising cannot begin this summer in a similar way to the opening up of international aviation.”
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet seems to be firmly on board with getting cruises started up as soon as possible, indicating mid-October discussions with the federal government have progressed to the point they could decide in short time:
“I know they are passionate about it and the Prime Minister had spoken to the former premier Gladys Berejiklian around getting cruising back on track,” he said. “I am very on board with that, we are very open to doing that and working with the Federal Government to bring back cruising. I know the Prime Minister is incredibly passionate about doing that as well.”
Before cruises do resume, a lot of work will need to be done. Perhaps the main reason that cruise lines are now cancelling voyages into 2022. Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Managing Director Australasia Joel Katz said this:
“We need to have detailed discussions between governments, health authorities and cruise lines so that an agreed framework can be put in place to support future cruise operations. The latest cruise cancellations we have seen are the result of the uncertainty cruising faces in Australia while there is no agreed plan in place for resumption.”
“Australia is now one of the only major cruise markets in the world where governments have no detailed plan for future cruise operations.”
So far, Princess Cruises and other cruise lines such as Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Cunard, and P&O Cruises have all cancelled their voyages for the time being Down Under. How long this situation will take is anyone’s guess right now.