Cruises are back! Everything you need to know before setting sail

Mar 19, 2022
With the cruise ban set to lift on April 17, 2022, the country’s cruise companies are gearing up to set sail once again. Source: Getty Images.

It’s official! Cruises will soon resume in Australia following the Federal Government’s announcement they will not renew the long-standing cruise ships ban in Australia.

With the ban scheduled to lift on April 17, 2022, the country’s cruise companies are gearing up to set sail once again.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Australia, Dan Tehan, alongside Minister for Home Affairs, Karen Andrews and Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, issued the good news on March 15.

Tehan described the news as “another key step forward” in reviving Australia’s tourism sector which has suffered immensely with the outbreak of Covid-19 and its devastating effects on the country’s economy.

“This is great news for the cruise industry, tourism, the broader economy and the Australians who love to take a cruise holiday,” Tehan said.

“The resumption of cruising is another key step forward in the tourism sector’s recovery from Covid-19.”

Hunt revealed that the appropriate medical and legal steps had been taken for Australia to proceed with lifting the cruise ban.

“On the basis of medical advice and with the agreement of National Cabinet, lifting the cruise ban is consistent with the reopening of Australia’s international border and shows that we have successfully navigated Australia’s emergency response to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Hunt said..

Starts at 60’s Head of Travel, Wendy Harch welcomed the news, sharing some insight into what cruise lovers can expect when they step back on deck.

“Obviously, we are excited to hear that the cruise ban is finally lifting from the 17th of April,” she said.

“What that actually means is the biosecurity act is going to cease on that date and it won’t be extended. This is really good news for cruise lovers in Australia and it does mean that all of the cruise lines that are normally cruised in Australian waters are currently preparing to return to Australian waters be that sooner, or a little bit later down the track. So that’s really good news.

“One of the key things to keep in mind, because I know there are some people out there still thinking ‘I am not ready to cruise yet’, is that over 90 countries like the US, the UK, Singapore, Japan and most of Europe, have actually re-started cruising operations already. So all this time that we’ve had cruising paused in Australia, there’s actually been over 8 million passengers worldwide who have already taken a cruise successfully and returned to their home port.

“The cruise lines have been doing this successfully offshore and so it is something that can be re-introduced back in Australia successfully too. It’s an exciting time for us.”

How soon can cruise lovers set sail? 

Wendy expects “that you can set sail as soon as June in Australia” with “one of the first large ship cruises to resume is the P&O cruise from the 14th of June from Sydney up to the Great Barrier Reef.”

“I think that is a spectacular way to resume cruising,” she said.

Other departures that have also been announced are Norfolk Island, Kangaroo Island, Moreton Island, up to the tropical north Whitsundays, and the ever-popular South Pacific.

Wendy suggests visiting to “find all of the cruises and all of the information.”

“We’ve done a collection on the front page with cruises kicking off in 2022.

One of the most popular cruise ships that you all seem to love is the Queen Elizabeth, we’ve been getting lots of questions about whether the Queen Elizabeth will be in the water in Australia this year and the answer is yes, yes she will!

“She is actually resuming cruising in November with the availability of the QE for  November already getting tight. So if you are looking at cruising on the QE, get in touch with us. We will be able to find the pockets of availability on the QE for the November cruising if that’s what you’re interested in and now that the ban is lifted, this will sell quickly so get in touch with us about that.

exciting things coming with Princess cruise soon, RCI as soon as October from Brisbane, and then December from Sydney, NCL (Norwegian Cruise line) they are going to not resume until December 2023 for the 2024 season. And then some of you like MSC as well, they’re actually going to include Australia in their maiden world voyage, so we will watch this space and see what the others are doing. So lots of movement and lots of announcements happening.

Will cruising be the same?

There’s no doubt that with the arrival of Covid-19 our daily lives and normal routine have been changed drastically and travel, particularly cruises, are no exception. However, Wendy assures cruise lovers that the “positives of cruising aren’t going to change.”

“You are going to get onboard, you are going to unpack once, you are going to cruise to spectacularly, beautiful destinations, have three meals a day, entertainment at night, be able to meet and interact with all of your friends and family and lots of activity,” she said.

“One of the biggest questions we get asked is about vaccinations. At this stage, what I would recommend to you is to ask your consultant at the time of booking because obviously a lot of the cruise lines have different rules and regulations, offshore will also have different rules and regulations but in short, yes you will likely need to be double vaxxed to cruise. So just keep that in mind.

Wendy cautions that “there will be some other changes” but “there are some really exciting things and positive changes that are in the industry.”

“One of the things a lot of the cruise lines have been working on during their downtime is improving their technology. So there is actually some exciting things coming in the pipeline in terms of technology, for example being able to walk up to your door and have it open already.

“To deal with the aftermath of Covid-19 there will be the ability to order your food and drinks on iPads and have it delivered to wherever you are onboard the ship.”

The most noticeable changes will be to health protocols while onboard.

“Obviously, health protocols have changed and as they should post-Covid-19 and on that point I would say that the cruise lines have spent almost the entire time of the ban working with government health authorities, health experts, working with the local ports, working with industry bodies to get the health protocols improved and to get them right,” Wendy said.

“That includes vaccinated guests and crew, there will be health screenings, sanitised terminals and boarding will be staggered even more than it already is, improved testing onboard with latest testing capabilities as well as improved ventilation and staggered disembarkation when you get home.

“So those are just a few of the things that will change and will improve with cruising once it resumes in Australian waters.”

Are cruises here to stay?

There seems to be a fair bit of back and forth when it comes to pandemic regulations. One day we can remove our masks with glee, the next it’s required we wear them at all times. So with the return of cruises on the horizon, the inevitable question is whether cruises will remain on the water for good.

“The reality is that no one really knows the answer to that question but this move in April is a really big important step in Australia and there is no talk of anything changing in a backward direction,” Wendy said.

“So I think if you understand the terms and conditions and the cancellation schedule, you can book with confidence. I would be asking the travel consultant to help you understand how that works and how you can book with confidence.”

Recommendations for first-time cruisers.

If you haven’t hit the waters on a cruise before and don’t know where to start Wendy recommends finding “a travel consultant you can ask all of your questions and don’t be shy in asking the questions.”

“Even just simple things can make a difference, such as do I have to pay for my laundry onboard or is there self laundry facility. Things like that are really important to help you know how much you need to pack,” she said.

“The biggest tip for first-time cruisers is don’t overpack. You will be out in casual clothes most of the time but if you ask your travel consultant you can tailor your packing more effectively.”

Another important point for first time cruisers is to be familiar with all the fine print associated with your trip.

“Don’t be shy to really ask about the terms and conditions and the cancellation schedule because that will help you as a first-time cruiser and help you understand how you can book in and know that you are comfortable with it,” Wendy said.

“When it comes to preparing for your departure, there is some paperwork that needs to be done. If you complete this ahead of time, it will actually speed up your boarding and when you get to board the ship. Again, don’t be shy to ask your travel consultant.”

Taking to the sea on a cruise also provides a unique opportunity for a little retail therapy.

“One thing to think about is it’s an opportunity to do some shopping, to look at really comfortable clothes, light flowy resort-wear dresses,” Wendy said.

“It’s an opportunity to make your cruise even more comfortable. Again, ask your consultant what the dress code is onboard your cruise, different cruises are going to have slightly different dress codes, whether you’re on a P&O ship or if you are on the Queen Elizabeth.

“There are also some rules and regulations around the things you can and can’t take onboard so do look into what that is.

Travel at 60 is taking bookings for all major cruise lines with cruises expected to embark as early as May 2022. And more ships are expected to be diverted into Australia in the coming days.  Sign up for the Travel at 60 emailer to get access to new releases and amazing deals as they arrive.

At Travel at 60 you get the same travel consultant on your quote, through to your booking through to your departure documentation so you’ve got the same person. You’re not ringing a call centre where you go into the mix. You can ask to speak to that same consultant and they will look after you all the way through. Travel at 60 are a small and friendly team based in Australia who really look forward to helping you book your next cruise in Australia. 

Stories that matter
Emails delivered daily
Sign up