NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet is keen to get cruising restarted after more than 18 months of the popular holiday being banned, while the Federal Government has said there’s “no reason” why they can’t resume this summer.
Mr Perrottet said he is “in discussions right now with the Federal Government”, in the first indication a move could soon be made after months of campaigning by the industry.
“I know they are passionate about it and the Prime Minister had spoken to the former premier Gladys Berejiklian around getting cruising back on track,” he said.
“I am very on board with that.
“We are very open to doing that and working with the Federal Government to bring back cruising. I know the Prime Minister is incredibly passionate about doing that as well.”
A Federal Government spokesperson told 9News: “Once 80 per cent vaccination has been reached there is no reason why domestic and international cruising cannot begin this summer in a similar way to the opening up of international aviation.”
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Managing Director Australasia Joel Katz called the news “encouraging” and said detailed talks are needed.
“It’s very encouraging to hear governments are discussing plans for cruising and we look forward to having further engagement,” he said.
“We need to have detailed discussions between governments, health authorities and cruise lines so that an agreed framework can be put in place to support future cruise operations.
“The latest cruise cancellations we have seen are the result of the uncertainty cruising faces in Australia while there is no agreed plan in place for resumption.
“Australia is now one of the only major cruise markets in the world where governments have no detailed plan for future cruise operations.”
P&O Cruises Australia welcomed guests aboard Pacific Adventure – currently docked in Italy – to enjoy comedy music and chats on Facebook.
The company has cancelled its cruises until mid-January.
President of P&O Cruises Australia Sture Myrmell said there was a “serious underlying serious message” behind the fun event.
“Governments have made it very clear that vaccination thresholds are the key to ending lockdowns, border restrictions and, ultimately, re-opening Australia,” Mr Myrmell said.
“And part of returning to normal society is ensuring that the more than one million Australians who choose a cruise holiday each year have the opportunity to do so again.
“Unfortunately, we are not yet clear on the requirements from governments and public health authorities for a phased return of domestic cruising but we remain hopeful these conversations will gather pace now there is real momentum around society re-opening.”
Cruise Lines International Association called the situation “absurd”.
Their anger is not just about holidays – 18,000 Aussie jobs supported by the $5 billion industry remain under threat.
Meanwhile, cruise line Royal Caribbean has cancelled sailings of its mega-ship, Ovation of the Seas, until the end of March next year.
“A clear pathway for the return of cruising is yet to be established by the Australian Government,” it said on Facebook.
Cruises will require vaccinations and testing, with detailed safety plans proposed.
CLIA said two million people have already been on cruises in the rest of the world as pandemic rules eased.
According to the Port Authority of NSW, 1240 cruise ships visited 47 Australian ports in 2019.
Passengers, crew and cruise firms spent $2.5 billion, with Sydney the main port but regional areas also benefitting.
‘Freedom Day’ in photos: Drinks, haircuts, gyms and shopping