Cruise sector bids ‘bon voyage’ to pandemic cruise ship protocols

Aug 30, 2023
While Victoria, Queensland, and Western Australia have not made official announcements regarding the lifting of these rules, the protocols are expected to be lifted in these states too. Source: Getty Images.

After facing a tough time during the pandemic, the recovering cruise sector is now saying farewell to pandemic restrictions.

In preparation for a busy summer, NSW Premier Chris Minns has officially lifted the COVID-19 rules for cruising, recently signing the paperwork to formally remove the Eastern Seaboard and Western Australian Cruise Protocols, marking a significant step for the industry.

In April 2022, rules were introduced for cruises to resume operation safely after the pandemic ban was lifted. The states of NSW, Victoria, QLD, and WA agreed to these rules, and the cruise companies chose to follow them.

These rules stated that everyone aged 12 and up needed to be fully vaccinated to go on a cruise ship in these states. People also had to wear masks when getting on or off the ship and show a negative COVID test before leaving.

However, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) changed its guidelines for cruises on August 25.

The shift came when the AHPPC found that vaccines and oral treatments have significantly reduced the risks for Australians.

As a result, the approach to COVID-19 has become more similar to dealing with other common diseases, even in the cruise industry.

While Victoria, Queensland, and Western Australia have not made official announcements regarding the lifting of these rules, the protocols are expected to be lifted in these states too.

“We need to get life back to normal,” NSW Premier Chris Minns said while announcing the lifting of the protocols.

“We have scrapped these rules because they aren’t needed any more.

“Passengers can take their own decisions to look after their health before and during a cruise.

“Cruise companies have been looking after their guests and workers and we encourage them to continue that.

“But this change is needed – we could not remain the only country with these rules for cruising.

“These protocols were important at the time to get the cruising industry going again after COVID. They were never meant to remain forever.”

P&O Cruises Australia welcomed the end of government-imposed COVID-19 settings for cruise guests in Australia, following the government’s announcement.

“As Australia’s favourite cruise line, we are delighted with this long-awaited news, which will end confusion for our guests and open up options for their summer holiday plans,” SVP Guest Experience, P&O Cruises Australia, Peter Little said.

“This brings the Australian cruise industry into line with the rest of world and means families from both Australia and overseas, will now be able to book their cruise holidays with confidence.”

P&O will be implementing the changes effective immediately.

Princess Cruises also praised the government for its decision, claiming the development has been “long-awaited”.

“We applaud the decisions by governments throughout Australia to make visiting and exploring the country easier and more convenient for all travelers,” a spokesperson said.

“This long-awaited development means that all cruise enthusiasts can once again indulge in the sheer pleasure of exploration, and PrincessCruises looks forward to helping guests to connect to the vibrant cultures, breathtaking landscapes, and captivating histories across the magnificent Australian coastline and beyond.”

Has reading inspired you to book your next cruise? Contact Travel at 60 (our dedicated travel agency for Australian 60-pluses) on 1300 414 198 for a friendly chat about your next adventure.

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