The NSW Premier has removed cruise Covid protocols including vaccine mandates and mask rules on cruise ships as of today.

Premier Chris Minns signed paperwork formally removing the Eastern Seaboard and Western Seaboard Australian cruise protocols.

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, part of the Federal Government’s health department, updated their advice last Friday.

Premier Minns said axing the rules was part of getting “life back to normal”.

“We have scrapped these rules because they aren’t needed any more,” he said in a statement.  

The protocols were introduced in April 2022 to support the safe resumption of cruising.

The state governments – NSW, Victoria, Queensland and WA – approved the cruise protocols which were implemented by the cruise industry on a voluntary basis.

The four governments have now agreed there is no longer a need for the protocols. The Premier said this is due to increasing community immunity to Covid.

The regulations required that all passengers aged 12 years and over needed to be fully vaccinated before boarding a cruise ship or departing or arriving at a port in the four states.

The rules also required passengers to be wearing masks including when embarking or disembarking.

Passengers were also required to have a negative Covid test result prior to departure.

All protocols will be removed.

“Passengers can take their own decisions to look after their health before and during a cruise,” he said.

“Cruise companies have been looking after their guests and workers and we encourage them to continue that.”  

Minns also said, “This change is needed, we could not remain the only country with these rules for cruising.

“These protocols were important at the time to get the cruising industry going again after Covid. They were never meant to remain forever.”

What CLIA said

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has welcomed confirmation from Australia’s Chief Medical Officer that cruise-specific Covid-19 measures are being removed.

“This brings Australia into line with other countries internationally and gives clarity to cruise passengers ahead of the coming summer cruise season,” said CLIA Managing Director in Australasia Joel Katz.

“As the last major cruise destination to maintain cruise-specific measures, Australia’s ongoing testing and vaccination requirements had been causing increasing confusion among travellers, particularly as measures on land and at airports had been removed.”

The withdrawal of cruise-specific measures was confirmed to CLIA today by Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly following a decision by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC).

Katz said the NSW Government had indicated that its own measures were being withdrawn. And that other states were expected to make similar adjustments in line with the AHPPC announcement.

The revival of cruise operations in Australia has been carefully managed since the middle of last year and many hundreds of thousands of Australians have sailed successfully in local waters.

“The cruise industry’s top priority will continue to be the health and safety of guests, crew and the communities we visit,” Katz said.

“Cruise lines will continue to abide by their own robust health and safety measures and hygiene standards. And the industry will work closely with health authorities into the future.”