APT’s much anticipated sailing of the Kimberley onboard MS Caledonian Sky on June 2 has been cancelled because of a shortage of qualified crew.

At time of writing, it was unclear what went wrong – with APT claiming it was “an additional issue that we had not expeçted” meaning they were forced to hire 30 Australian crew.

“While we have all the necessary approvals and licences for our small ship, the MS Caledonian Sky, to begin its 2021 domestic cruising season in the Kimberley, unfortunately we are now dealing with an additional issue that we had not expected.

“In obtaining the necessary authorisations that the business has from all Federal and State government bodies, we had to amend our crew protocols and commit to additional operational requirements,” APT said.

“Following advice from the Australian government, we are employing more than 30 Australian crew members for our 2021 Kimberley season. However, due to a number of challenges, including a tourism and hospitality staff shortage at present, the recruitment process has been slower than anticipated. This has meant the training required for all crew to meet criteria set by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority has also been delayed.

“Despite our best efforts in engaging with specialist agencies to recruit and deliver training specifically to our APT crew, we have not been able to achieve the desired outcomes in time and unfortunately we have had to suspend one sailing due for departure on June 2nd 2021,” the line said.

At this stage, only the first Kimberley sailing on June 2 has been cancelled.

APT is hopeful that the remainder of the Kimberley season will go ahead as planned.

Affected customers have been offered a Future Holiday Credit, equal to the amount paid for their Kimberley booking, which is valid until the end of 2023.

Last week, when APT’s managing director, Chris Hall confirmed that the line was restarting its Kimberley sailings, he said it was a “tremendous outcome.” MS Caledonian Sky was scheduled to cruise with 99 passengers and crew members during the Kimberley season between Broome and Wyndham.

APT’s cancellation comes hot on the heels of Scenic cancelling its entire season in the Kimberley onboard Scenic Eclipse after struggling to get approvals and because of ongoing uncertainty around the lifting of restrictions on cruising in Australian waters.