The Australian government has dropped the broadest hint yet that cruise ships will be welcomed back to Australian waters within weeks.
But the prospect of a restart has come too late to save P&O Australia Cruises’ summer season in three ports — Adelaide, Fremantle and Cairns.
Blaming uncertainty around border re-openings in several states and territories, P&O Australia has also scuppered a repositioning voyage from Singapore to Cairns, and cruises from Cairns between 2-29 June, including multiple calls in Papua New Guinea.
Federal health minister Greg Hunt has flagged Australia’s biosecurity emergency, in place since 18 March 2020, will not be extended beyond the current expiry date of 17 December, once state health authorities green light the move.
Cruise Lines International Association Australasia managing director Joel Katz welcomed the news from the health minister, although he doesn’t expect to see much cruise action before Easter 2022, due to the challenges of deploying ships at short notice.
In August, Tradewind Voyages was forced to postpone its Maritime Silk Road journey of the world’s biggest sailing ship from Europe to Australia, citing uncertainty over the Australian government’s approval for international cruise ships to operate in local waters.
P&O Australia previously announced cruises scheduled to depart from Sydney and Brisbane would be delayed until 14 February, 2022.
P&O Cruises Australia president Sture Myrmell said, “With more than 80% of Australia’s adult population fully vaccinated, society is rapidly re-opening and travel is progressively resuming.
“There is a need for governments to engage with the cruise sector on a pathway for the staged resumption of domestic cruising.”