The NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet has confirmed to Cruise Passenger that current Covid restrictions for cruising, including vaccinations, are on the way out. NSW Premier Chris Minns is expected to announce the policy changes in the coming days.

Cruise Passenger has received correspondence from several state and federal departments confirming a decision was expected by the end of this week.

Minns told Cruise Passenger he strongly supports the changes.

“We need to move on and get life back to normal,” he said. “We’ll be removing restrictions on cruising, like the need for wearing a mask and having a Covid vaccination when boarding. There is no need for it anymore.

“Passengers should continue looking after their health before and during their cruise, including through vaccination. But Australia can’t remain the only country globally 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 happens next?

Should the NSW Government removes the protocols, other states should follow.

The Communicable Diseases Network of Australia, a subcommittee of the Australian Health Protection Principal, reviewed the guidelines.

The issue was proving particularly problematic for families. Many families kids have turned 12 since the pandemic, but haven’t wanted to vaccinate their kids to cruise.

Australia was the last country in the world to maintain these cruise Covid protocols.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) told Cruise Passenger: “The removal of Covid-19 vaccination and testing requirements for cruise ship passengers will bring Australia into line with other jurisdictions around the world.

“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.

“As the current settings have become increasingly confusing for guests, CLIA and cruise lines have engaged with Federal and state health authorities to seek a consistent approach in line with current community standards. As other countries have now removed Covid-19 measures relating to cruising, Australia is now the only significant cruise destination in the world with ongoing testing and vaccination mandates. 

“CLIA looks forward to further details from governments so that cruise guests can have clarity ahead of the summer cruise season. The industry’s highest priority remains the health and safety of guests, crew and the communities we visit.”

How the cruise lines are responding

Virgin Voyages have released a statement supporting the move.

“We thank the Premier for his decision on the removal of these regulations. It will finally bring Australia in line with the rest of the world. We encourage the remaining states to follow suit as soon as they can, given the high levels of interest to cruise by Australians and the contribution it makes to the economy nationally,” said Virgin Voyages Chief Brand Officer Nathan Rosenberg.

“Australia is a very important market for Virgin Voyages given our sister companies are well known and well loved. We couldn’t be more excited to be coming to Australia. We are looking forward to bringing a sea change by offering Australians something they have never experienced on our newest and truly game-changing ship,” Mr Rosenberg said.

“There is a lot of anticipation building for our arrival. It will be a significant boost for the economy and the cruising industry. It’s fantastic that the NSW Government has been able to support the cruise industry in this way,” he said.

Have your say. How do you feel to see these vaccination rules axed?

For more information on cruise vaccinations, click here