Australia’s pandemic-era ban on cruise ships comes to an end. The $400m liner Pacific Explorer cruise ship, which has a capacity of almost 2,000 passengers, arrived in Sydney on Monday morning, with a huge banner at the bow reading “We’re Home” for the first time in more than two years due pandemic rules. Two other cruise ships owned by P&ONSW, will begin operating. Before the pandemic, some 350 cruise ships traveled to Australia making the industry worth Aus$5.2 billion (US$3.8 billion) to the national economy. The sector previously supported more than 18 000 Australian jobs. At this time,Victoria and Queensland have outlined testing and vaccination requirements for passengers and crew in preparation for the ships to return but Tasmania is still reviewing whether such a move is safe for the island state. Tasmanian Liberal MP Roger Jaensch says the island state government “will make its own decisions”.
Safety steps include vaccination requirements for crew and passengers over 12 years old, as well as mask and Covid-testing protocols. CLIA Australasia’s managing director, Joel Katz, said more than a million Australians a year took an ocean cruise before the pandemic.He considers the cruise industry’s new protocols provide among the highest possible levels of prevention, detection and mitigation. More than 32,000 new cases were reported across the nation on Sunday. Labor’s home affairs spokesperson, Kristina Keneally, and the home affairs minister, Karen Andrews, contracted the virus last week. “Our safe and staged approach to the return of cruise shipping means we provide an avenue for these businesses to operate safely once their cruising season starts, while managing the public health risk,“ Premier Mark McGowan said.