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West Australia opens border to small cruise ships this month

The 2022 Kimberley season will go ahead with Western Australia opening its border for small cruise ships from April 17
Western Australia will allow small interstate ships with a maximum capacity of 350 to return from April 17, the day the commonwealth government will lift the ban on cruise ships in Australia.

This means international companies, like Ponant and Silversea, can operate in WA waters if their ships arrive from other states and territories without sailing directly into WA from an international port.

Larger ships allowed in October

Larger cruise ships will be allowed to return from October 1 when they will be welcomed at ports around the state, including Fremantle, Esperance, Albany, Busselton, Bunbury, Geraldton, Exmouth and Port Hedland.

Last December Cruise Lines International Association Australasia’s MD Joel Katz said urgent action was needed to save the 2022 Kimberley season, which runs from now until October.

‘We need agreement on the way forward before the upcoming Kimberley season is lost and travellers look to destinations overseas,’ Katz said.

He said the border reopening in time for this year’s season is ‘a huge relief’ for the many travel agents, tour operators, hotels and restaurants, food and beverage suppliers and regional communities, that rely on the cruise industry.

Ponant and Silversea ready to go

Ponant, which has two ships — Le Soléal and Le Lapérouse — in regional waters off New Caledonia, will commence Kimberley operations from Darwin on April 28.

Silversea also plans to operate a 2022 Kimberley season starting June 4. 

Vaccination and booster required for eligible travellers

All cruise vessels operating in WA must have a COVID-19 management plan prior to sailing and under state border requirements all crew and passengers must be double dose vaccinated and have a third dose if eligible.

‘The ability for the cruise shipping sector to safely resume operations in WA in a safe and progressive way will provide a significant economic boost to the tourism sector, especially Broome in the near term,’ WA Premier Mark McGowan said.