Australia Cruise Ship Ban to End on April 17

Australia will soon see international cruising return to its territories thanks an update by the country’s government.

On March 15, the Australian government announced that, based on medical advice, it will not renew the ban on international cruise ships arriving and departing from Australian ports. The current determination expires on Apr. 17.

The update was given via a joint media release by the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, the Minister for Home Affairs, Karen Andrews, and the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Dan Tehan.

According to it, to ensure the safe return of international cruising to Australia, additional measures to reduce risk include:

  • Enhanced pre-arrival reporting and identification of COVID-19 risk through more questions of passengers and improved processes.
  • Amendments to the Biosecurity (Negative pratique) Instrument 2016 to ensure cruise vessels always arrive in negative pratique (that is, permission to unload passengers and cargo).
  • Stress testing of the emergency response system in relation to cruises.
  • Engaging with the cruise industry on safe resumption.
  • Passengers will be required to be double vaccinated. 

Australia’s National Cabinet has confirmed the “positive progress” by the eastern states and the cruise industry to “develop appropriate health protocols and common guidelines to support a safe return to cruising.”

The release highlighted that international cruise ships will still need to meet all state and territory public health requirements of the jurisdiction into which they berth. State and territories will advise their readiness to receive cruise ships, the government stated.

Cruise industry mandates – including requiring passengers be vaccinated, implementation of appropriate operating and outbreak management plans, and COVID-19 safety plans – will also help reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission aboard cruise ships, the government said.

“On the basis of medical advice and with the agreement of National Cabinet, lifting the cruise ban is consistent with the reopening of Australia’s international border and shows that we have successfully navigated Australia’s emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Australia’s Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt.

Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews said the Australian Border Force stands ready to “welcome international cruise ship passengers and crew back to Australia.”

According to her, in 2019, Australia welcomed more than 600,000 cruise ship passengers across the border from almost 350 vessels.

“The cruise ship industry plays an important role in our tourism sector and forms part of the Morrison Government’s plan to bolster our economic growth as we recover from the pandemic,” Andrews said.

Andrews noted that she “can’t wait to see our cruise terminals once again filled with arriving international passengers, getting this important industry ship-shape and back out on the water once more.”

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Dan Tehan, said the resumption of cruising in Australia was an important milestone in the government’s COVID-19 response and is “another key step forward” in the tourism sector’s recovery from COVID-19.

“We look forward to welcoming cruise ships and passengers back to Australian waters,” Tehan said.

More than 94 percent of Australians over the age of 16 have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and more than 12 million Australians have had a booster vaccination.

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