CruisePrincess Cruises says hola to first-ever summer season in Mexico and Hawaii.

Sapphire Princess ditches Asia, Australia season

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“Australia is still one of the only major cruise markets in the world with no government plan for reviving domestic cruising," says CLIA Australasia
“Australia is still one of the only major cruise markets in the world with no government plan for reviving domestic cruising," says CLIA Australasia Photo Credit: Princess Cruises

Initially scheduled for deployment from Hong Kong to various ports in Australia in late August, Sapphire Princess has shifted course, and will instead be resuming its service earlier beginning with summer sailings from Los Angeles.

Princess Cruises made the decision to cancel the ship’s Asia/Australia season that was scheduled to take place between 28 August and 29 October. This decision was made in light of the uncertainty surrounding Australia’s cruise restart, especially when Australia extended the rolling cruise ban last year to 17 February, and have now pushed back that date to 17 April.

"Opening up to international visitors is great news for the inbound tourism industry, but Australia is still one of the only major cruise markets in the world with no government plan for reviving domestic cruising," said Joel Katz, managing director for CLIA Australasia, who added that the industry has "heard nothing from government on how we can move forward."

"We're now in the ridiculous situation where international borders are opening and Australians can travel overseas to cruise, but they can't sail domestically in their own waters," Katz said earlier this month. "Before the pandemic, more than a million Australians took a cruise each year, and we were one of the most prosperous cruise markets in the world."

Instead, Sapphire Princess’ return to service will start two months earlier than planned with cruises from Los Angeles on 25 June, offering 16 voyages of four to 16 days, inclusive of a special five-day getaway to celebrate the US’s Independence Day on 4 July. Most notable of Sapphire Princess’ itineraries include the cruise line’s first summer season to Mexico, Hawaii and the California Coast.

Many cruise lines have similarly postponed their re-entry into Australia. As Australia’s peak summer cruise season is the US’s winter, by the time that the country’s cruise ban is lifted on 17 April, the season is essentially over.

Naftali Holtz, CFO of Royal Caribbean Group, conjectures that Australia may open its cruise sector for its summer season, which will be wintertime in the US.

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