March 16, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier

After flagging positive progress in last week’s National Cabinet meeting of Australia’s political leaders, the Federal Government has announced the ban on international cruise ships docking in Australia will not be renewed when it expires on April 17.

Like those arriving by air, cruise ship travellers will require a full primary course of a COVID-19 vaccination to disembark a cruise ship in Australia. Other COVID-19 safety protocols for cruise ships will include enhanced pre-arrival reporting, including more questioning of travellers and removing the automatic right for cruise ships to unload passengers – they will need to receive explicit permission before any disembarkation.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the decision to remove the ban on international cruising was made based on health advice.

“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,” he said.

Trade and Tourism Minister Dan Tehan said the Government looked forward to welcoming back ships and passengers into Australian waters.

“This is great news for the cruise industry, tourism, the broader economy and the Australians who love to take a cruise holiday,” he said.

“The resumption of cruising is another key step forward in the tourism sector’s recovery from COVID-19.”

Major global cruising association Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which represents 95 per cent of the world’s cruise industry, welcomed the end of the ban.

“Today’s announcement is a huge breakthrough for more than 18,000 Australians who depend on cruise tourism, including travel agents, tour operators, food and produce providers, entertainers, port workers and many other industry suppliers,” said CLIA’s Australasia managing director Joel Katz.

“The suspension of cruising over the past two years has cost the Australian economy more than $10 billion and we now have an opportunity to work on a revival.”

“Cruising has changed enormously in response to the pandemic and the work our industry has done with medical experts internationally has resulted in health protocols that are among the most extensive to be found anywhere in world tourism.”

“These protocols span the entirety of the cruise experience and provide some of the highest possible levels of prevention, detection, and mitigation, including vaccination and testing requirements for all passengers and crew before boarding.”

In the last pre-pandemic year, more than 600,000 cruise ship passengers came across the Australian border on nearly 350 ships.