P&O Cruises Australia, which has been sailing from Australia for nearly 90 years as the nation’s home-grown cruise line, today announced its plan to re-start operations with voyages for vaccinated guests and crew.
President of P&O Cruises Australia Sture Myrmell said governments were linking society returning to normal to sufficient numbers of Australians being vaccinated for COVID-19.
“P&O Cruises is the longest-serving cruise line in the country with a proud 90 year history of sailing from Australia, and we want to do our bit to get this country back up and running again,” Mr Myrmell said.
“Governments have been connecting vaccination rates to plans to end lockdowns, border restrictions and, ultimately, re-opening Australia. In addition, our research shows that the vast majority of our guests want to cruise with other vaccinated Australians.
“P&O’s vaccination policy is an indication that everything possible is being done to support the resumption of cruising in a way that provides further reassurance for our guests and the authorities that public health and wellbeing are our top priority.”
The cruise industry has been seeking to work with Australian governments and public health authorities since last October to agree a pathway for the resumption of cruising within Australia for Australian residents.
The cruise industry has developed the most stringent health protocols likely to be found anywhere in tourism. These protocols, which are being used in other parts of the world, include 100% testing of all guests and crew (with a negative result required prior to boarding) as well as extensive protocols covering crew quarantine, distancing, sanitation, health monitoring and response procedures.
In the absence of an agreed pathway for the resumption of domestic cruising in Australia, P&O said it was unclear for how long it would require vaccinated-only cruises.
“We expect that P&O’s vaccination only policy for guests and crew would provide further reassurance for local authorities in working with the sector in developing protocols for resuming domestic cruise holidays,” Mr Myrmell said.
“We anticipate this policy will be in place until governments and public health authorities advise the broader community it has achieved the required public health outcomes and/or provides direction on public health management in the post-vaccination phase.”
Mr Myrmell said the imperative to resume cruise operations in Australia has never been greater.
“In the past 15 months, more than $6 billion in economic activity linked to cruising in Australia has been wiped along with the livelihoods of suppliers including farmers, technical support services, tour operators and entertainers,” he said.
P&O Cruises Australia said it would provide guests with further detail on the policy once there was an agreed re-start date for domestic cruising, however, the broad intent was to require proof of vaccination for those in the population eligible to be vaccinated at the time.
In line with its flexible booking policies, P&O Cruises Australia said any guest who wishes to cancel their cruise due to the vaccination policy will receive a full refund.