Australian cruisers can now step onto a ship regardless of their vaccination status. Unsurprisingly, many cruisers didn’t take long to snap up their chance. 

Owner of iTravel Penrith Belle Goldie said that following the announcement, she had five bookings in 24 hours from those previously unable to sail. 

A Carnival Australia spokesperson also reported that their customer base has started booking straight after the announcement. 

“We are delighted with the response from our guests, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Many families are looking forward to booking a cruise now their children can travel.”

Flight Centre has seen a similar pattern forming after cruise rules were dropped.  

Specialist cruise agent at Flight Centre Katrina Van Der Merwe said: “I do expect an uptick now that restrictions have been lifted. In the past, yes, it has been an issue, people unable to cruise due to vaccine issues.”

CLIA certified agent and owner of Deluxe Cruise & Travel Sharon Summerhayes said she hadn’t seen an immediate surge, but extra bookings could see this ‘wave season’ shaping us as a sell-out.

“There hasn’t been a huge influx, as many of my clients have booked in good faith that the vaccination rules were going to change before the upcoming season.  Those who were a little worried are now booking though!

“(There are) lots of last minute bookings for this upcoming season now that so much is selling out.”

Ships are now free from cruise Covid protocols
Ships are now free from cruise Covid protocols.

Who can finally book?

Summerhayes has seen mostly families with young teens booking after the extended doubt of whether they could cruise. That included those who were not required to be vaccinated at the peak of the pandemic.

“The main demographic for new bookings with unvaccinated travellers have been young teen families whose children weren’t mandated to vaccinate for anything except cruising,” Summerhayes said.

Van Der Merwe said it had been a struggle to book a range of clients over the past few months, but they are now able to cruise again.

“Unvaccinated adults were certainly a tricky piece of the puzzle whether travelling as families or in larger groups. Some were unvaxxed due to personal preferences, but others weren’t vaxxed for medical reasons,” she said.

“ It wasn’t easy getting them booked with post-Covid medical requirements still in place such as obtaining doctor’s certificates of clearance. Even if it was something that they could get, there was only an allowance of approximately 5 per cent of each cruise to be unvaccinated.

“This included children under the age of (past) vax requirements. So if one family had managed to meet the requirements, and another came along but the quota was already reached, that meant no cruise for the second family.”

Families will now be able cruise with teenage kids.

What happens now if you get Covid on a ship?

Many cruise lines are still in the process of updating their new protocols. However, the general rule appears to be that if you’re diagnosed with Covid on board, you will have five days of isolation. This follows current rules overseas. 

A Carnival spokesperson confirmed that isolation rules for its brands – Carnival, P&O, Princess, Cunard, Holland America, Seabourn – will remain as part of cruise rules.

“Any guest reporting or exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms should notify the ship’s onboard medical staff and be tested for COVID-19.  Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should isolate for at least five days and until they are symptom free for 24 hours.

“Any guest who isolates during their cruise, will be entitled to a Future Cruise Credit for the days spent in isolation. The Future Cruise Credit will be the value of the cruise fare paid for the number of cruise days missed less government taxes, fees and port expenses, and will be subject to our standard terms and conditions for Future Cruise Credits.”

Viking maintains similar rules 

Viking has also maintained its existing rules.

“If a guest tests positive to COVID-19 the guest may be isolated on board or ashore – depending on local guidelines and symptoms, if any,” the cruise line said.

“Should the destination where the ship is located require those who test positive be disembarked – or should guest choose to isolate ashore – Viking will help the guest arrange accommodations to recover ashore and help coordinate their travel home. Any expenses incurred are the guest’s responsibility.”

P&O has had a huge response to the scrapping of various vax rules.

For more information on cruise rules, click here