Cruise talks to resume once Australia hits 80%

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Australian cruise fans are basing their hopes on a local reboot in early February 2022, as state and federal government officials focus on local and international tourism first.

Industry executives believe there is still hope that if the community meets its vaccination targets there will still be ships leaving Sydney in early 2022. But they concede that despite calls from over 40,000 passengers and agents and meetings over the past six months, there has been little or no progress towards developing a plan for the return of foreign-flagged vessels in 2021.

“We are going through a difficult and difficult time as the government is not interested in resuming cruising until 80% of the population is fully vaccinated,” said Sarina Bratton, Asia-Pacific president of the small ships line. luxury Ponant when launching a video. , Beyond the polar circle, hosted by TV veteran and Ponant Ambassador Andrew Daddo last week.

“We have all the COVID security protocols on board our ships that cover every base,” she said. But after meeting with health officials, she revealed that the cruise was not a “high priority” on the way to reopen Australia’s borders.

Ponant founded The Lapérouse and Le Soléal in Noumea while waiting for the green light from Australia, and the line is paying a high price for the uncertainty.

Ponant is not alone.

Cruise lines are desperate to start productive discussions on the way back to local routes before the Christmas holidays. Those close to the negotiations believe New South Wales and Queensland are the key states in an attempt to move forward before the Christmas break – with New South Wales quite possibly the first to help.

Politicians of all stripes have signaled their willingness to put cruising on the agenda once full vaccination rates reach 80% and epidemics are under control.

But if that fails and the decision carries over into the new year, it could be October 2022 before Australia revisits the large vessel fleet in local waters.

Cruise officials say the arguments for resuming cruises have been welcomed by political leaders. But there’s one hurdle to overcome: a vote by Australia’s Main Health Protection Committee, which includes the country’s health officials and their federal counterparts.

That would mean that a leader like Kerry Chant, NSW’s chief health officer, would have to champion the cause to begin with. The hope is that New South Wales can meet the vaccination target by mid-October and allow talks in mid-November.

With two cruise terminals, NSW is Australia’s cruise capital. The state is expected to seek an exemption to allow certain vessels to enter NSW waters.

NSW Health declined to comment when Cruise passenger approached them this week.

Timing is critical, as it takes 60 to 90 days to turn a ship around. “We need to have some direction before the biosecurity determination at the Dec. 17 border is changed,” one executive explained. Without it, the summer season will be over and most lines will not return until October 2022.

And the frustration is that, despite the sheer amount of scientific evidence the cruise industry has gathered on how new health protocols have made cruises safer than almost any other vacation, it has been difficult to be heard amid the noise of a pandemic.

Carnival Australia has already moved its departures to 2022. Royal Caribbean has always Ovation of the seas is due to leave Sydney in December.


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