Cruises for Christmas in Australia?

Australia’s ongoing ban on international cruise ships, to the chagrin of international carriers in general and Australia-based international cruise companies in particular, might be lifted before Christmas.

At a press conference in Melbourne, Victoria, on Sunday November 14th federal health minister Greg Hunt said he was working with the states and territories and that he wants to see cruise ships back in Australia before Christmas. “We’re reviewing that right now, precisely on the basis of the 90%-plus first vaccination rate and the 83% second vaccination rate,” he said, adding that he expected to be able to make a decision on cruise ships in the coming weeks once the medical information was available. However, he warned that it would “require at least one state or territory to partner on that.”.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) said that without a clear timeline to end the ban on cruise lines and a commitment to welcome cruising from state and territory governments, there was little hope of cruise returning anytime soon. ACCI chief executive Andrew McKellar noted that cruises were resuming responsibly in other parts of the world, but that the Australian cruise industry remained anchored. “For our cruise industry to recommence operations they need a firm commitment and timetable to resume, indications are not enough. We cannot expect the cruise industry to set sail again with so much uncertainty. Restarting the industry is not as simple as the federal government just lifting the ban. A restart to the cruise industry takes months of planning with staffing, catering and ship storage all needing to be considered.”

McKellar said that the federal government must needed to provide a clear timetable for ending the biosecurity determinations so that cruises can resume. He said that Covid-safe measures which would be required for cruise ships needed to be outlined. “Further, we need state and territory governments to commit to accepting cruise ship arrivals,” he said.