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Time to sail away: Clearer skies ahead as cruise ships return to Australia

While industries around the world have suffered during the pandemic, few have been hit harder than the cruise line sector which is celebrating its long-awaited return to Sydney Harbour.

While industries around the world have suffered during the pandemic, few have been hit harder than the cruise line sector which is celebrating its long-awaited return to Sydney Harbour.

On Monday, P&O’s Pacific Explorer became the first to return to Australian shores since the COVID-19 pandemic brought the industry to a standstill in March 2020. 

The suspension cost the Australian economy more than $10 billion during that time, according to Cruise Lines International Association, with businesses including travel agents, caterers, tour operators and hospitality and transport providers all impacted.  

Numerous international cruise ship arrivals are now scheduled through the end of the year joining the Australian-based expedition ships which have continued to cruise along the country’s coastline.

“After a two-year pause in cruising, we are looking forward to seeing international cruise ships arrive back into Australia signalling a return to economic growth for this important sector of the tourism industry,” said Australian Cruise Association CEO, Jill Abel.

“We have worked closely with our industry partners to hold extensive discussions with Federal Government around the healthy and safety protocols required onboard and onshore to make this cruise re-start possible so this is understandably a very exciting day for us all.”

Oceania Cruises

Foodservice Suppliers Association Australia chief executive Vince Crawley said the return of cruising would flow right through the economy. 

“Clearly they’ve gone through a tough few years, so any return to normal is important for food service and the supply chain,” Mr Crawley told AAP.

He said cafes, restaurants and other hospitality venues would benefit, as would local suppliers. 

Explorer_homecoming
Pacific Explorer homecoming

On Monday, the $400 million Pacific Explorer, which has capacity for almost 2000 passengers, arrived in Sydney to a ceremonial water cannon salute following a 28-day voyage from Europe, where it has been anchored for most of the past two years.

Before the pandemic, as many as 350 cruise ships travelled to Australia each year carrying more than 600,000 passengers, with the industry contributing $5B to the Australian economy.

Joel Katz, the Australasia managing director for the Cruise Lines International Association, said an enormous amount of work had been done with medical experts to ensure the safety of guests and 18,000 Australians whose livelihoods depend on cruise tourism. 

Source: AAP