The first international cruise ship arrived in Sydney Harbour (NSW Australia) Monday morning, April 18, one day after the government's ban on cruising was lifted.
P&O Cruises' ship Pacific Explorer entered Sydney at 9:30 am, arriving at the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay at ~10:30 am.
The arrival of the liner was met with a maritime hero's welcome, with 3 water cannon tugs escorting Pacific Explorer through the harbour and sending up ribbons of water to salute the arrival. There were ~250 crew onboard but no passengers.
Another 600 crew members will join before the ship's first passengers set sail on May 31 on a 4-night roundtrip itinerary from Sydney to Brisbane.
Pacific Explorer is to be followed by Ponant's Le Laperouse at the end of April, with operations restarting on April 28 for a Darwin-Broome cruise in time for the Kimberley season.
According to Joel Katz, CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) managing director Australasia, extensive new health protocols would allow "a staggered restart of cruising."
Among the new protocols to mitigate the risk of COVID are ensuring all passengers over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated, requiring guests and crew to produce a negative COVID test before boarding, and implementing special COVID protocols for onshore excursions.
Cruise operators will provide a range of enhanced onboard health measures to reduce the risk of transmissions of the virus, such as social distancing and new, enhanced cleaning protocols.