CruiseMarooned and miserable, the cruise sector Down Under awaits government rescue.

Borders reopen, but Australia cruise sector still stuck on land

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Carnival Cruise Line has relocated Carnival Spirit to Florida.
Carnival Cruise Line has relocated Carnival Spirit to Florida.

While the rest of Australia’s travel industry has been celebrating the government’s move to reopen borders to international tourists, the cruise industry has been left in limbo, unable to move forward with any certainty.

Australia will reopen its international borders to fully vaccinated tourists on 21 February, although in making the announcement the federal government made no mention of removing restrictions on foreign-flagged cruise ships entering Australian waters.

The government last year extended the rolling cruising ban to 17 February, leaving cruise companies with little option other than to send their ships elsewhere.

They can’t understand how the government can reopen international borders but have no plan in place for when cruise can restart in a managed and responsible way.– Joel Katz, CLIA

Carnival Cruise Line last week relocated Carnival Spirit to Florida due to uncertainty surrounding the Australian cruise industry. The ship was due to homeport at the new Brisbane International Cruise Terminal.

At the same time, Carnival Australia announced a further cruise pause for Carnival Spirit and Carnival Splendor until June because of the ongoing sailing ban.

Joel Katz, managing director Australasia of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), said people who were keen to cruise were “frustrated and angry”.

“They can’t understand how the government can reopen international borders but have no plan in place for when cruise can restart in a managed and responsible way.

“In other countries millions of people have already sailed successfully under the cruise industry’s extensive new health protocols.”

In calling for the cruise industry to be reopened "as soon as we can, as safely as possibly”, New South Wales state premier Dominic Perrottet said, "It doesn't make much sense that you've got people leaving Australia to go cruising overseas, but they can't go cruising in Australia.”

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