Glimmer of hope: Cruise industry unveils plan to restart cruising in Australia

Sep 01, 2021
Australia's cruise industry is planning to reopen when the nation hits vaccination target. Source: Getty

Australia’s industry cruise body Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has outlined a plan to resume cruising in Australia.

According to a report in The Australian, the plan will coincide with the federal government’s phase-four plan out of Covid, meaning once we hit vaccination target (70 to 80 per cent), which is on track for November-December, the cruising industry should be given the green light to reopen.

Under CLIA’s plan, once 70 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated, limited domestic-only cruises should be able to run. However, before trans-Tasman and other cruise ‘bubbles’ open up, vaccination levels need to hit 80 per cent. Things like mandatory vaccinations, onboard testing and contract tracing will also be a requirement in order to hop on a cruise.

Speaking before an online forum attended by almost 1,000 delegates on Friday, CLIA Managing Director Australasia Joel Katz said a roadmap out of the pandemic for the cruise industry was vital.

“This is about having plans agreed in advance so that we’re ready as conditions improve with the rising vaccination rate,” Katz said, The Australian reports. “Our governments have created a four-phase plan to reopen Australia, and we’re now calling for our own four-phase pathway to be included in this process.

“Cruising involves long lead-times ahead of operations, so we need a plan in place now so we can work towards reviving an industry worth more than $5bn a year to communities around Australia.”

According to CLIA, the cruise industry is already back up and running in Europe, Asia and the United States.

Travel at 60s Chief Commercial Officer Wendy Harch has welcomed CLIA’s announcement and has urged those with an itch to cruise in the near future to book in as soon as possible as vacancies are filling up fast.

“With the cruising public holding millions of dollars in cruise credits from 2020 and 2021, the pressure on availability in 2022 is immense,” she said. “So if you are looking at cruising in 2022, we highly recommend you book soon or you will miss out! Many destinations are also opening up for cruising in 2023 — including Alaska, Europe and Japan. With the northern hemisphere already actively cruising, it is highly recommended you book your desired cruise and cabin type early or you will miss out!”

If you’re hesitant to book over possible lockdowns and cancellations, Harch says you have nothing to worry about: “Many cruise lines have very positive cancellation policies and so you can book with full confidence of a full refund of deposit prior to final payment due date and prior to any cancellation fees kicking in. Ask you travel consultant for details.”

Browse through Travel at 60’s current cruise deals here.

The news comes just two months after Cunard cancelled its Australia and New Zealand season. The British cruise line announced in June it will refund passengers who’d booked trips on the Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Vitoria ships that were set to depart in 2021 and the beginning of 2022, and will offer incentives for those want to book again at the end of the year.

Cunard President Simon Palethorpe said at the time the decision to cancel the “much-anticipated Australian season” had not been made lightly.

“We are extremely sorry for the huge disappointment cancellations will cause for all guests who have been affected,” he said.

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