P&O Cruises Australia flagged its return to cruising at the end of May 2022, with the launch of a new homeporting program from Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney.
The move follows the decision of the Federal Government to lift the cruise ban from April 17, 2022, the first step to enable cruising and its contribution to the economy to resume after the 2-year suspension of operations.
The major step is for state governments to reopen the ports to cruise ships. Discussions are now progressing with Commonwealth and the eastern states to finalize a set of health protocols and guidelines.
According to P&O Cruises President Marguerite Fitzgerald, the cruise line was excited to be working towards the restart of operations on May 31, subject to government approval, and had started preparations for the return of its 3-ship fleet and crew.
“We’ll be working closely with government agencies on our return which will see us visit about 20 ports around the country after an absence of more than two years."
Fitzgerald added the rolling pause in cruising over the past couple of years meant the line had to revise its deployment schedule for 2022 in order to ensure it could restart sailings smoothly.
Under the new program, cruising in Australia will resume when Pacific Explorer sails out of Sydney on May 31 on a 4-night roundtrip voyage to Brisbane, where the vessel is scheduled to make the first call at the new cruise ship terminal on June 2.
P&O's ship Pacific Explorer will then sail out of Sydney on a series of Queensland & South Pacific voyages until late October, replacing the scheduled program of Pacific Adventure. While most itineraries will remain unaltered by the change of cruise ships, a 10-night roundtrip to Vanuatu departing on June 1 has been replaced with 3 shorter domestic sailings.
Pacific Adventure will commence her maiden season of sailings from Sydney on October 22, 2022, when Pacific Explorer will head to Adelaide for a mini-season of 4 cruises. Pacific Explorer is scheduled to redeploy to Melbourne in November 2022 for 3 months, prior to returning to Adelaide in February next year for a longer season of 9 cruises.
Meanwhile, Pacific Encounter's Brisbane debut has been rescheduled from June 4 to August 20, prompting the cancellation of 15 voyages.
The cruise company will also liaise closely with the government of Fiji, New Caledonia and Vanuatu on the scheduled return of cruising to those countries during the 2nd half of the year.
Passengers whose bookings are affected by the announcement will be notified of the options available.