When is Australia's cruise ban likely to be lifted?

Health minister Greg Hunt says he is working to retract order that has prevented international cruise ships from entering Aussie waters for more than a year.

“I expect to be able to make a decision on cruise ships in the coming weeks once we’ve got the medical information, but it will require at least one state or territory to partner on that,” said Mr Hunt.

But he says, ultimately, it will be up to the states and territories on when ships can enter their ports.

“We’re working with a number of states and territories, we’ll let them make their own considerations,” he said.

“But we would like to see cruising back on before Christmas.”

NSW and Victoria are already open to quarantine-free international travel so it’s believed they will be the two most likely candidates to reopen to ships.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said a range of health and safety requirements will need to be met before ships can return.

Read: Cruise News: Plans for a return to sailing soon

“The cruise industry is a very important segment of the travel market, and we look forward to the greatest harbour in the world being able to welcome ships from around the world once again when it is safe to do so,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald.

It is believed Mr Perrottet said he was “very on board” for the ban to be lifted.

This is music to the ears of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) managing director Joel Katz, who has already assured cruisers there will be strict COVID-safe rules in place prior to ships entering Aussie harbours.

“We need the federal government to lift the ban and then we need to be able to work with the states and territories to finalise the protocols,” he said.

CLIA’s four-phase pathway towards the return of cruising includes extensive health protocols developed by cruise lines globally in response to COVID-19, which are already operating where cruising has restarted overseas.

Read: Australian cruise industry outlines four-phase revival plan

Despite the positive news, many cruise lines have already scrapped 2022 itineraries from Australian home ports.

P&O Australia cancelled its 2022 homeporting seasons for Adelaide, Fremantle and Cairns. So, too, Tradewind Voyages 2022-23 summer season in Australian waters.

Princess Cruises and P&O have paused Aussie cruises until 14 March 2022 and 14 February 2022 respectively.

Many Australian cruisers have booked flights overseas to board international cruises, says Flight Centre managing director Graham Turner, adding that bookings have gone “through the roof” since the international travel ban lifted.

Read: Flight modelling could inform decision on international travel

As expressed by YourLifeChoices members, people want certainty before cruising again.

“Right now, as far as cruising goes, there isn’t any certainty other than the local cruise operators in Australia,” Helloworld chief executive Andrew Burnes told The Australian.

“You can jump on a plane and fly to the US and head to wherever – the Caribbean, Florida. You can fly to Europe and get on a Mediterranean cruise. People are booking for next year in droves.

“People are scratching their heads wondering why they can buy a cruise overseas and not one here.”

Do you feel comfortable booking a cruise right now? Have you already booked one? Or would you prefer to wait and see what happens in the next month or two? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.