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Carnival cancels – but Royal Caribbean “hopeful” of cruising at Christmas

The world’s two biggest cruise lines appear at odds over whether or not there will be December sailings in Australia, with Carnival cancelling itineraries for P&O, Princess and Carnival Cruise Line.

Royal Caribbean, which has Ovation of the Seas scheduled to sail out of Sydney 0n December 13, said in a statement to Cruise Passenger they are “hopeful” cruising will return in December.

“As areas of Australia manage ongoing lockdowns, we are hopeful that domestic cruising will return this December. We are following the rapid pace of vaccine rollouts, and we’re confident the nation will welcome the return of foreign flagged cruise ships this year. Royal Caribbean will continue to monitor the vaccination numbers closely and look forward to welcoming passengers back onboard soon,” said a spokesperson.

“We are thankful to our loyal guests and travel partners for their ongoing patience and support since we suspended cruise operations in Australia in March 2020. Great progress has been made around the world and we are eager to welcome back our local guests as we have successfully done in Singapore, Europe, the USA and UK.”

Their confidence was echoed by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk who earlier this week told a press conference held at the new Brisbane International Cruise Terminal would be preparing a plan which could allow Queenslanders to cruise along the sunshine state’s coastline.

“What I’d like to see is … a plan where we could perhaps start to see some Queensland-based small cruises,” she said. “We’ll be working with the industry to see how we could progress that and we’ll be putting that to the national cabinet.”

Ms Palaszczuk said fully-vaccinated Queenslanders could trial smaller cruises up and down the Queensland coast but said the proposal was still “a few months off”.

“I know how much Queenslanders love their cruises, I was just in Hervey Bay and Bundaberg, and they were talking to me about how much they missed that,” she said.

CLIA Managing Director Joel Katz said it was encouraging the Premier had acknowledged the need to discuss a revival of cruising in Queensland, and that there was potential for Queensland to be a leader in rebuilding the Australian cruise industry.

“Premier Palaszczuk is the latest political leader to acknowledge the work needed to revive cruising, which is ordinarily worth more than $5 billion to the national economy and supports the jobs of more than 18,000 people,” Mr Katz said.

However, Princess Cruises and P&) Australia this week cancelled sailings until January, 2022.

P&O, the home-grown Aussie cruise line said it would be applying its cruise pause on departures from December 18, 2021 through to January 14, 2022 for Brisbane and January 18, 2022 for Sydney. They also announced they would be cancelling its Melbourne summer season.

“Governments have made it very clear that vaccination thresholds are the key to ending lockdowns, border restrictions and, ultimately, re-opening Australia. 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,” said P&O Cruises Australia President Sture Myrmell.

“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.”

Princess Cruises has cancelled sailings on Coral Princess until January 17 and on Royal Princess and Sapphire Princess until March.

But a spokesperson from Carnival Corporation said that Coral Princess, Royal Princess, Majestic Princess and Grand Princess will sail in Australia for the 2022/23 wave season.