Australia's cruise shipping industry set a course for recovery, celebrating the first voyage out of Sydney NSW after 2+ years of suspension.
P&O Australia's Pacific Explorer departed Tuesday evening, May 31, on a 4-night roundtrip to Brisbane Queensland, as the first foreign-flagged liner to carry cruise tourists from the east coast since the start of the COVID crisis in March 2020. It follows the restart of Ponant’s Le Laperouse ship which commenced operations between Broome and Darwin in April, joining local small operators in time for the Kimberley season.
According to Joel Katz (CLIA Australasia's Managing Director), the Australian market could begin rebuilding an industry that was previously worth USD 5+ billion per year to the local economy.
“With extensive new health protocols in place, Australia has now joined the rest of the world in a careful resumption of cruise operations. We now have an opportunity to revive a sector that previously supported more than 18,000 jobs around Australia.”
Cruise industry health protocols that were introduced in response to COVID span the entirety of the experience and include vaccination/testing requirements for passengers and crew members before boarding.
Joel Katz said that while no setting was immune from COVID, the industry’s new protocols provided "among the highest possible levels of prevention, detection, and mitigation.” Those measures had been proven in 90+ other countries where cruising had already restarted, resulting in significantly lower levels of serious illness and hospitalization than on land.
“The sight of Pacific Explorer sailing from Sydney Harbour this evening will be cause for celebration for many thousands of people who rely on cruise tourism for their livelihoods, and for Australia’s enormous community of passionate cruise fans.”