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.
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.