Cruise industry celebrates first sailing from Sydney. P&O Cruises Australia’s Pacific Explorer departed on the company’s first cruise since the COVID-19 pandemic

The Pacific Explorer returns Sydney (Photo courtesy P&O Cruises Australia)Australia’s cruise industry has set a course for recovery, celebrating the first passenger sailing from Sydney Harbour after two years of suspension.

P&O Australia’s Pacific Explorer departs this evening on a four-night round-trip to Brisbane, the first international vessel to carry passengers from the east coast since the start of the pandemic. It follows the return of Ponant’s expedition ship Le Lapérouse which began operations between Darwin and Broome in April, joining other local operators in time for the important Kimberley season.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Managing Director Australasia Joel Katz said the Australian cruise community could now begin rebuilding an industry that was previously worth more than $5 billion a year to the local economy.

“With extensive new health protocols in place, Australia has now joined the rest of the world in a careful resumption of cruise operations,” Mr Katz said. “We now have an opportunity to revive a sector that previously supported more than 18,000 jobs around Australia.”

Cruise industry health protocols introduced in response to Covid-19 span the entirety of the cruise experience and including vaccination and testing requirements for passengers and crew before boarding.

“While no setting is immune from Covid-19, the cruise industry’s new protocols provide among the highest possible levels of prevention, detection, and mitigation,” Mr Katz said. “These measures have been proven in more than 90 other countries where cruising has already resumed, resulting in significantly lower levels of serious illness and hospitalisation than on land,” he said.

“The sight of Pacific Explorer sailing from Sydney Harbour this evening will be cause for celebration for many thousands of people who rely on cruise tourism for their livelihoods, and for Australia’s enormous community of passionate cruise fans.”

(CLIA Australasia, P&O Cruises Australia)