As Australia experiences the fourth wave of COVID, Carnival Corporation says it has taken an industry-leading health precaution and reinstated its mandatory mask mandate across all brands.

This includes Carnival Cruises, Princess Cruises, P&O Australia, Holland America Line, Cunard, and Seabourn.

From now, all guests and crew will need to wear a mask at all times when indoors, unless eating and drinking, and outdoors when social distancing is not possible. Masks will also be necessary on company transfers like tenders and buses.

Carnival Australia said: “We can confirm that mask-wearing is being applied on board all Carnival Corporation brand ships operating in Australia and the region as an additional safeguard in light of the current rate of Covid-19 in the general community.

“The past two years have seen all industries, including ours, strengthen their health and safety protocols. At the same time, a majority of the population is now vaccinated.

“At a time when Australia is faced with a rapid rise of COVID cases, it’s critical everyone plays their part in keeping the community safe, and we thank our guests for abiding by our requirements.

“For all vessels in the Carnival Corporation fleet operating in the Australian region, this means going above current guidelines.”

As to how long these protocols might be in place, Carnival says it’s as long as they’re needed.

“Our strict and robust measures will remain in place for all voyages for the foreseeable future. They are critical to the safe operation of an industry so many Australians rely on for their livelihood and for our guests who have been waiting years to join us on a trip of a lifetime.”

But Royal Caribbean, one of Australia’s major operator, is still standing by its policy of ‘recommending’ masks.

Royal Caribbean recommends guests should wear masks at the cruise terminal when embarking and disembarking, and in public indoor spaces and crowded outdoor spaces onboard. Some destinations we visit may require guests to wear masks.”

Cries over COVID and cruise have continued in the media, with 3AW reporting that the Grand Princess has docked in Melbourne and guests who have tested positive for COVID have been allowed to disembark if they are travelling to a residence to continue isolation.

Per the Eastern Seaboard Protocols that cruise lines are currently adhering to, this is completely by the book.

The protocols state: “Cases and their close contacts will be able to drive home if they have their private transport at the port and are well enough to travel. Private transport does not include taxi, rideshare or public transport.”

Where private transport is not possible, the protocols state: “For those who cannot safely drive home, the industry will enter into agreements with local hotels or other suitable accommodation providers to accommodate cases and their close contacts until they are released to travel home.”

3AW spoke to Julie, a passenger on Grand Princess who seems mostly unfazed by the speculation surrounding the sailing.

“I was on the Grand Princess and I’ve just come off the board now.

“I’m fine and I was just saying…if we hadn’t heard the gossip among the passengers that people had been sick, we never would have known there were definitely no people looking or sounding unwell on the ship.

“If they had tested positive or been sick I believe they were quarantined in their cabin and had room service. So there certainly weren’t lots of people walking around where you thought I’m going to get COVID and something bad’s going to happen.

“It was very well managed.”

3AW also shared a statement they received from The Victorian Department of Health.

“A nationally agreed cruising protocol has been developed to help manage and reduce the severity of any COVID-19 outbreaks on cruise ships visiting Australian ports.

“This includes a pre-boarding health screening and testing requirement, a range of public health measures on board, as well as escalation processes in the event of an outbreak.

“In Victoria, our South East Public Health Unit leads the outbreak management of ships that dock at Melbourne Port, including working closely with cruise operators to stay informed of case numbers and any medical response needs prior to arrival.

“Cruise ship operators must have COVID-safe plans for any shore excursions, with passengers also asked to comply with any additional state-based guidance if they opt to disembark.”