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EXCLUSIVE: Carnival Australia expected cruise ban extension but bitterly disappointed…Royal Caribbean though says date does not affect them.

June 12, 2021 Cruise News, Headline News No Comments

In response to a request by Global Travel Media to Carnival Australia and Royal Caribbean International for their comments in relation to the Federal Government’s announcement to extend the ban on cruising in Australia until 17 September, Carnival Australia and Royal Caribbean spokespersons provided Global Travel Media with their exclusive responses.

The Carnival Australia spokesman very interestingly said that “An extension to the biosecurity determination was anticipated and this is reflected in the pause in operations that our brands have previously announced”.

This appears to confirm as covered previously by Global Travel Media that Carnival Australia was extremely confident that the cruise ban would be extended to September 17, the date to which Carnival Australia some considerable time ago extended its operational pause, which could mean a cruise restart in perfect time for the beginning of the Australian “wave season”.

The Carnival Australia spokesman added, “However, we are bitterly disappointed that today’s announcement was not accompanied by a framework to provide a pathway for the resumption of domestic cruising, to begin with”.

This is rather surprising though, considering Sture Myrmell, President, P&O Cruises Australia,
[pictured] and Carnival Australia is one of the teams of industry leaders that form a working group along with CLIA and its cruise line members, which include both large and small ship operators, which has been meeting regularly with the government to advocate for a phased and carefully controlled resumption of domestic cruising in Australia, beginning with local cruises for local passengers while international borders remain closed.

In addition to Mr. Myrmell, the working group includes key government agencies, representatives of CLIA and the Australian Cruise Association, Gavin Smith Vice President & Managing Director, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, and Sarina Bratton Chairman Asia Pacific, Ponant, with CLIA saying that it and the group along with cruise lines globally have committed to extensive new measures in response to COVID-19, including 100% testing of all guests and crew before boarding and strict protocols covering crew quarantine, social distancing, sanitation, health monitoring, and response procedure.

This clearly appears to be not good enough for The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee [AHPPC], which also appears to have ignored everything to which the working group and the industry have committed.

The Carnival Australia spokesman added, “This disappointment is all the greater because of the thousands of individuals and businesses, big and small, whose livelihoods depend on the restart of cruising”, and “This was brought home as recently as this week when hundreds of travel agents visited the new Brisbane International Cruise Terminal hoping for the return of cruising,” and “We will continue to engage with government authorities to achieve a pathway to the careful resumption of cruising that we know our guests, suppliers, and employees want to see happen.”

The Royal Caribbean International spokesperson said, “The Australian government’s new cruise suspension date does not overlap with our scheduled 2021/22 Australian departures, with the first sailing due to depart Sydney on 16 October 2021″, adding, nevertheless, we are currently completing a full review of our upcoming summer program and will announce any necessary changes in the coming weeks.”   This also coincides nicely with the start of the “wave” season.

RCI also said, “We will continue to engage with Federal and State governments to gain approval to recommence cruising in Australia and will provide updates as news comes to hand”, adding, “For more than a year the industry has shared the industry’s extensive new safety and health measures in response to COVID with Australian Governments”.

RCI also said, “As the Cruise Lines International Association said yesterday, we urge Governments to commence discussions with the industry to take real steps towards establishing a plan for future cruise operations”, which is a concerning comment as it contradicts the previous paragraph which said, “We will continue to engage with Federal and State governments”  It had been assumed the working group represented the industry discussion and negotiating with the government for the restart, but it appears from this comment that it is not clear if the discussions with Government are actually taking place although Gavin Smith Vice President & Managing Director, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd [pictured] is a member of the working group.

RCI closed their comments with, “We’re buoyed by the support we’re seeing from CLIA Australasia’s “Ready Set Sail” campaign — which has generated almost 40,000 emails to Parliament, urging clear guidelines for a return to service in Australia — and is hopeful we can look forward to a 21/22 summer cruise season”.

In the meantime, some in the industry believe that a much tougher, extensive, inclusive, and better-communicated approach needs to be taken by the cruise sector, especially after what is considered by many in travel and cruise to be a further snub to the cruise sector and what appears to be an ongoing patent lack of understanding of cruising by the Federal Government and also the AHPPC .

A report and opinion by John Alwyn-Jones, Cruise Editor.

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