The Federal government has pledged to change the wording on its official website about cruise ship vaccinations after Cruise Passenger readers complained it was misleading.

Cruise Passenger pointed out the discrepancy after readers got in touch with us. They pointed out the Covid and Travel information page states vaccination is not required by the Federal Government to cruise.

What the page didn’t say was that state governments have their own mandates. Vaccinations are required to cruise along the Eastern seaboard.

The federal Department of Health acknowledged the complaints and has now agreed to review and change its website.

A spokesperson told Cruise Passenger:

“The Australian Government does not require people to be vaccinated to travel on cruise ships.

“State and territory government requirements for cruise lines operating in Australia are outlined in the cruise protocols.

“Noting the feedback that some travellers have found the information on the website confusing, we will review it and revise it to address this concern.”

The Australian Government’s Department of Health and Aged Care website currently states under their Covid-19 and travel page: “There is no Australian Government requirement for travellers to be vaccinated on board a cruise vessel”. It does suggest a check with cruise providers for up-to-date requirements. 

However, those in the industry have encountered many cruisers reading the website and starting the process of booking a cruise.

But some have members of their party that don’t meet the vaccination requirements of the Eastern Seaboard Protocols. Full vaccination is still a requirement of cruising.

How has it affected cruisers?

Share Summerhayes, owner of Deluxe Cruise & Travel says she recently had a family who were prey to the misleading guidelines. 

“I recently had a family wanting to book four cabins for a family celebration cruise aboard Royal Caribbean towards the end of this year. Excitedly, they contacted me to book their cruise after doing their research. They had looked up the Australian government rules which stated that no vaccination was required to cruise from Australia.”

Ms Summerhayes said she had to let down the family and inform them of the real requirements.

“I mentioned the current vaccination requirements in conversation and they said that I was wrong because they’d seen it on the Australian Government website. Basically, I had to let them down and advised that even though Australia doesn’t require it, the states do.”

Had the family not been booking via an agent, they would have spent their money. Not knowing that they wouldn’t actually be able to get on the ship together.

“It’s all very confusing for people and if they didn’t go to an agent, they may have booked online and had a hard fight to recover their costs.  

“Unfortunately, they have a 13-year-old that they were not prepared to get vaccinated for the cruise. So they are forced to postpone their celebration until the rules change. I felt so bad hearing their excitement turn to disappointment.”

Ms Summerhayes says this has not been an isolated incident.

“I have quite a few stories like this where people are taking the Australian rules as gospel, not knowing the State rules actually trump the country rules. I would hate to think of the number of people that have booked not knowing.”

What have people said?

In a Facebook group for Royal Caribbean passengers, Ms Summerhayes posted a poll asking people their thoughts on vaccination mandates. So of around 200 respondents, 56 per cent said they wished to keep the mandates and 44 per cent voted to allow everyone to cruise, regardless of vaccination status. 

Cruise Passenger comments are similarly divided.

Eris Jane wrote: “I am glad that these rules are still being enforced. They help to keep safe those of us who have taken precautions but are still wary of a virus that hasn’t gone away and can be very nasty. Vaccination is just sensible. Lots of vulnerable elderly people like to cruise.”

Jenni Tavinor wrote: “Yes, we wish to cruise but being unvaccinated restricts us. You can travel across borders, get on a plane, use all forms of public transport but still not cruise. Totally illogical!

“Consider opening up like the rest of the world. Our tourism needs the money too.”

Earlier this month, Cruise Passenger carried the story of Jasmine Tully, who wanted to take her 13-year-old granddaughter on a cruise but was refused because the teen wasn’t vaccinated.