The zero-Covid locked-doors strategy of Australia since the outbreak of the pandemic early last year has now had a knock-on effect on the Australian cruise sector.
While the global cruise sector has been emerging from what has almost been an 18-month hibernation, with Miami, Florida, and US west coast ports beginning to offer something approaching a full service, Carnival subsidiary P&O Cruises Australia has extended its pause in operations for cruises departing from Sydney and Brisbane by a further month, until mid-January 2022, missing out on the popular Christmas period. The previous plan had been to resume cruise offerings from December 18th. The company said that it made the move “to give guests greater confidence in planning their Christmas and New Year holidays because of the uncertainty around the return of cruising”.
The voluntary pause will apply to cruises scheduled to depart from December 18th 2021 through to January 14th 2022 (for Brisbane) and January 18th 2022 (for Sydney).
P&O Cruises Australia also confirmed it was cancelling its Melbourne summer season, which was no longer feasible to deliver.
P&O Cruises Australia President Sture Myrmell said that “we recognize this is disappointing for our guests who were looking forward to cruising with friends and family over Christmas and New Year. However, we wanted to make this announcement as early as possible to ensure they could plan with certainty for the holiday period,”
P&O Cruises Australia recently announced its intention to resume domestic operations with cruises for fully vaccinated guests and crew.
“Governments have made it very clear that vaccination thresholds are the key to ending lockdowns, border restrictions and, ultimately, re-opening Australia. And part of returning to normal society is ensuring that the more than one million Australians who choose a cruise holiday each year have the opportunity to do so again,” Myrmell said.
“Unfortunately, we are not yet clear on the requirements from governments and public health authorities for a phased return of domestic cruising, but we remain hopeful these conversations will gather pace now there is real momentum around society re-opening.”
Guests whose bookings have been affected will be notified of the pause and options available either directly or via their appointed travel agent.