After news that Australia’s ban on cruise was finally lifting, the first question was: “When can I get on a locally based ship?”
The first international cruise line to arrive will be Ponant, when expedition ship Le Laperouse cruises out of Darwin on April 28, with Le Soleal set to join from May 28.
That’s a month before P&O Australia, which is promising a ship in Sydney Harbour on May 31.
A Ponant spokesperson told Cruise Passenger: “Our two expedition ships, Le Laperouse and Le Soleal have been waiting in Noumea for two years to return to their Australian and NZ operations. We had commenced mobilising our ships and crew when the Northern Territory Government announced the change to their Health Directions allowing the small international expedition vessels to operate.”
Ponant has worked closely with the government at state and federal level to make sure the restart goes smoothly.
“We have been working very closely with the Federal Government as well as the Northern Territory and Western Australian Governments on our small expedition ship restart.”
“They have seen our very detailed 72-page Outbreak Management Plan which has been well tried and tested over the past year during the pandemic.”
Cruise only a month from now might seem too good to be true, but the Northern Territory Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade (DITT) confirmed everything is set to go ahead and outlined how it’s going to happen.
The DITT said in a statement to Cruise Passenger: “There are a number of Australian cruise companies already approved for operations in Northern Territory waters. Other ships will be accepted from 17 April once they have a COVID Management Plan approved by the NT Chief Health Officer
“Cruise companies need to submit an online COVID Management Plan for approval by the NT Chief Health Officer prior to commencing operations in NT waters.”
The DITT also confirmed that the current cap of 350 passengers will remain: “To cruise in Territory waters, cruise companies will need to comply with the NT Chief Health Officer Directions, which includes a cap on all vessels (Australian and foreign flagged) of 350 persons and they also need a have a COVID management plan approved by the NT CHO.
“NT CHO Directions are adjusted from time to time to reflect public health advice, current pandemic conditions and the capacity of the NT to respond if an outbreak occurred.”
Ponant is likely to be joined in the Kimberley by Silversea’s Silver Explorer in mid-May. The line is awaiting WA government approval.
New South Wales and Queensland both have sailings scheduled from early June that appear set to go ahead, but the news isn’t positive across all states, with Tasmania still not likely to cruise until at least the summer.
A Tasmanian Government spokesperson said: “The Tasmanian Government is currently considering the future directions of cruise tourism in Tasmania, recognising the important contribution that cruise shipping has made to the state’s visitor economy.
The Government will consult with all relevant stakeholders before setting a date for the resumption of cruise in Tasmania, however we do not expect cruise ships to return to the State before the start of the 22/23 summer cruise season.”
When are lines getting back to Australia?
A Royal Caribbean spokesperson confirmed sailings won’t be brought forward and will be kicking off from October 21.
“We are delighted that after two years, we have an approved pathway to work with state governments to determine the roadmap for a safe return. Having successfully welcomed back over a million holidaymakers over the past 12 months globally, we look forward to welcoming guests on our 2022-2023 Australian summer season which begins in October. Our season will kick off in October with cruises starting from 21st October from Sydney and from the 9th November for the first time from Brisbane.
Our ships will run itineraries that feature local Australian highlights of both the NSW and Queensland coast as well as New Zealand and South Pacific sailings.”
Norwegian Cruise Line
Ben Angell, Vice President and Managing Director APAC said: “The Federal Government’s decision to pave the way for cruising to resume in Australia is very encouraging. As the industry generates a significant AUD$5 billion towards the Australian economy each year, we are very much looking forward to resuming operations in Australia and supporting the local economy.
“Around the world, the majority of our 17 ships are now back to doing what we do best – delivering exceptional and safe holidays at sea backed by our comprehensive health and safety protocols – and we’re looking forward to returning the full fleet to sailing this year, including bringing Norwegian Spirit to local waters for her long-awaited debut as scheduled later this year.”
Norwegian Spirit is set to arrive in December this year.
P&O Australia acted quickly after the announcement, moving sailings forward to May 31, where Pacific Explorer will say from Sydney on a four-night roundtrip to Brisbane, before commencing a series of sailings to Queensland and the South Pacific, pending government approval of porting countries.
Pacific Adventure will be in Sydney from October 22, sailing to Adelaide for the first of four cruises.
As mentioned, Ponant will be back in Australia from April 28.
A Ponant spokesperson says: “Darwin is our homeport during the Kimberley season which operates between April and early October. During our 2022/23 summer, one of the ships will be doing the sub-antarctic islands of NZ as well as Australia’s Macquarie Island, together with Antarctica, the Ross Sea ex Dunedin. The other vessel will be in Melanesia, then on the east coast of Australia with a focus on Tasmania.”
Viking has announced that two of its ocean ships will arrive in local waters for the 2022-2023 Australia and New Zealand cruise season to round out the year. Viking Orion will return to her seasonal Sydney and Auckland home ports between November 2022 and March 2023, while Viking Mars, launching in May, will spend her maiden season sailing itineraries in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean before embarking on voyages in Asia, Australia and New Zealand. She is scheduled to arrive in Sydney on 27 December 2022 before departing on a special New Year’s Eve sailing from Sydney to Auckland.
Celebrity Cruises confirmed they won’t be returning to Australia ahead of schedule.
“Celebrity Cruises sail this region during the summer season, and we’re very much looking forward to welcoming the award-winning Celebrity Eclipse to our local waters from October 2022 through April 2023, with a series of 3 to 13-night itineraries visiting Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific. This will be the first time Celebrity Eclipse comes to the region.
We’ve developed a really special offering with curated itinerary themes to deliver on traveller’s passion points: ‘Sun and Beach Escapes’, ‘Food and Wine Classics’, and ‘Five Star Getaways’, brought to life through enhanced onboard and shoreside programming. The aim is to provide even deeper immersion into the unique culture of our amazing region.”
Oceania Cruises will be cruising from Sydney to Bali from December 12, 2022 on a 14 day cruise to Bali on Regatta, with another cruise from Sydney to Auckland for 14 days leaving on January 16, 2023.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Regent Seven Seas will return to Sydney and Australia on December 29, cruising for 14-nights to Auckland and then from Sydney to Bali for 18-nights from January 26, 2023.
Princess announced that Coral Princess will return to service early, arriving in Australia in June this year, running roundtrip Brisbane itineraries from three to 12 days long, across destinations in Queensland and New South Wales.
In August, Coral Princess will pivot to Sydney, departing on a new 12-day voyage that will go through Queensland and the Conflict Islands in Papua New Guinea, before then resuming her previously announced Australia and New Zealand program for 2022/2023.
Carnival Cruises will start cruising out of Australia from October, with a range of itineraries scheduled out of Sydney, however, there are currently no cruises scheduled out of Brisbane.