As cruise lines express further disappointment with the government’s inaction over a return to Australian cruising, P&O and Carnival Cruises have cancelled a series of cruises until the end of May.

With Royal Caribbean already scratching its sailings until the wave season in September, there will only be winter sailings on local lines like Coral Expeditions for the winter.

The current ban on foreign flagged ships is set to end on February 17 – but few expect that it won’t be extended as the federal government continues to refuse to engage with the cruise industry over a pathway forward.

This week, travel agents lobbied their MPs in a bid to rally support for a return to local itineraries.  Some 18,000 workers have been left with no certainty over their livelihoods and Australia has lost over $5 billion while state and federal governments refuse to lay down plans for the industry’s return.

P&O and Carnival Cruise Line have been forced to cancel over 15 sailings, throwing the travel plans of hundreds of families into further chaos. P&O cancelled sailings between April 23 and May 28.

Carnival Cruise Line has also cancelled further voyages till May 29, 2022.

P&O said in a statement: “The pause period reflects that it will take several months for a ship to return to operation once government agencies and public health authorities have worked with the industry to agree protocols. Australia is one of the last remaining major cruise markets in the world without a return to service pathway.

“Guests whose bookings are affected by the latest pause announcement will be notified of the pause and options available either directly or via their appointed travel agent.”

The Carnival Splendor will not resume sailings until after May 31 while the Carnival Spirit will start on May 29.

“Regrettably, that means we have made the difficult decision to cancel the following cruises and we apologise for this disappointing news,” said the line in a statement.

“Carnival will resume cruising when the time is right, and will do so with enhanced health measures developed in conjunction with government authorities, public health experts, local ports of call and the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).”

Meanwhile, leaders of a day if action for a cruise resumption reported a good response from MPs.

Clean Cruising’s General Manager Dan Russell told Cruise Passenger:  “The National Travel Day of Action acted as a catalyst for a number of meetings with MP’s on Tuesday, and many more across next week. These opportunities are hard to secure and many travel business owners had been trying to secure meetings to share their concerns for months and months, and now their doors are finally opening up to engage. So that’s good progress but this needs to be sustained over the next couple weeks in particular.

“I finally got an audience with (Queensland) Minister for Tourism, Stirling Hinchliffe, who has a good grasp of the challenges the cruise industry faces but has simply had his hands tied by Health for 20 months. I outlined ideas on how Queensland can safely lead the restart and we’ll see what steps his office takes next.

“The next 2 weeks are so crucial.”