According to the government, a vaccine against COVID-19 will be with us by March, and Australians will be able to receive it for free.
Qantas, the national airline, has already said passengers will need to prove they have had a vaccine before they can fly. Will it be the same for Australian cruises?
Cruise Passenger readers certainly think it should. In a snap overnight poll, an overwhelming 151 say vaccines should be mandatory on cruise ships, and just 18 were against.
Tony Scicluna told us: “Yes anyone travelling as well as crew should be vaccinated. No point in asking passengers to be vaccinated if the crew aren’t. But i am hesitant to have it immediately it’s released as it is not clear if it has been thoroughly tested on elderly people.”
Mr Joyce told A Current Affair: “For international travellers, we will ask people to have a vaccination before they get on the aircraft.
“Certainly, for international visitors coming out and people leaving the country, we think that’s a necessity.”
It’s hard to think of a reason why the cruise industry, which needs to rebuild confidence among the public if it is to attract new comers, would not follow suit.
Australian Cruise Association CEO Jill Abel told ABC radio Tasmania yesterday that cruise lines were considering mandatory vaccines. She told the ABC: “I think, because cruise is a choice, it might be a sector that can roll something out and I honestly believe cruise could be one of the safest ways to holiday in the future.”
But Cruise Lines International Association Australasia maintained it was “too early” to say.
The vaccine effect is clear, however. Cruise stocks have already risen by up to 40 per cent on news of the positive results on vaccines, indicating markets believe inoculation will have a profound effect on confidence and bookings.
“This is a very positive development for the world, and, of course, our company and our brands, as well as the cruise industry” Carnival Cruise Line told US network CNBC.
Royal Caribbean’s CEO Richard Fain, called the vaccine the “ultimate weapon”.
So here’s what you need to know:
The federal government has not yet made up its mind about making vaccines mandatory for international visitors – but for Australians, mandatory jabs are unlikely.
The Australian government’s COVID-19 Vaccination Policy paper includes a provision that unvaccinated travellers could be stopped at the border.
Cruise lines are already accepting that vaccine availability will be patchy by restricting visits to Pacific nations, which are likely to be behind Australia in adoption. Carnival Australia recently stated they would be focussing on Australia only itineraries.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is already working on a digital travel pass linked to passengers’ smartphones and United Airlines also has a prototyped digital passport. So if you want to cruise overseas, it’s likely you’ll need to get a vaccine.
Vaccination centres will issue certificates recognised by governments globally directly to the passenger’s smartphone. The Travel Pass app will produce permission to travel based on a passenger’s itinerary and it can be used to satisfy airlines and immigration authorities.
United Airlines is testing a “CommonPass app” system on flights between London and New York. Hong Kong and Singapore are considering the same app when they establish a “travel bubble”.