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In Focus: Covid-19 Solutions

Australia’s cruise ban lifted from next month

International cruise ships will soon be seen again in Sydney Harbour after two years without. Here, Oceania Cruises' Insignia
Australia's decision not to extend the human biosecurity emergency, which restricted the entry of international cruise ships, is welcome news for the entire industry.

The ban was put in place on March 18, 2020, to protect Australians from the COVID-19 pandemic.

A$10bn loss

‘The suspension of cruising over the past two years has cost the Australian economy more than A$10bn and we now have an opportunity to work on a revival,’ Cruise Lines International Association Australasia MD Joel Katz said. 

‘Cruising has changed enormously in response to the pandemic and the work our industry has done with medical experts internationally has resulted in health protocols that are among the most extensive to be found anywhere in world tourism,’ Katz said. 

‘These protocols span the entirety of the cruise experience and provide some of the highest possible levels of prevention, detection and mitigation, including vaccination and testing requirements for all passengers and crew before boarding.’

Much preparation to be done

Katz said there is still much preparation to complete before cruise ships will be able to return to Australian waters.

‘Cruising involves long lead times, so it is essential that state governments and health authorities continue to work closely with the industry in the coming weeks to finalise detailed operational plans for resumption,’ he said.

‘From ports to provedores, ground handlers to transfer companies, restaurant owners and tour operators, this announcement signals exciting times ahead as they prepare to welcome back cruise passengers and crew to our city gateways and, very importantly, smaller regional ports on the blue highway who rely on cruise visits for their livelihood,’ Jill Abel, CEO of the Australian Cruise Association, said.

Discussions progressing

Carnival Australia President Marguerite Fitzgerald said discussions are progressing with the commonwealth and eastern states to finalise a set of health protocols and guidelines ahead of a re-start.

Fitzgerald said the lifting of the ban means that companies under the Carnival umbrella, including P&O Cruises Australia, can now begin ‘preliminary steps for the complex task of preparing ships for the return to Australia.’

Hugely significant moment             

‘Of course there is a lot to do before the ships arrive and are full of passengers and crew again, but this announcement is a hugely significant moment for our business, the cruise industry and the passionate bunch of travellers that cruisers are,’ Flight Centre Australia’s GM Kelly Spencer said.