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Cruise Re-Start in Australia – Troubled waters ahead or will it be plain sailing?

There seems to finally be momentum around a cruise-restart for Australia with the Federal Minister and State Premiers all making encouraging comments.

The cruise industry in Australia pre-COVID was critical for our visitor economy contributing around 18,000 jobs and just under $5B in economic input to our country. With ports in all the major urban gateway cities and numerous regional hubs throughout Australia, these dollars were channeled into communities with a trickle-down effect to visitor centres, food and beverage outlets and touring experiences.

And there is no doubting that the marketing dollars spent by the cruise lines each year keeps the print media travel sections and magazines alive. You only have to look at how slim these editions have become over the past two years with the lack of commercial support – a result of no cruise lines in Australian waters.

But the tide is turning and with a green light imminent, it is feasible we will see some of the larger names like Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line and Viking Cruises back in Australian waters by mid-2022 if not earlier.

And while bookings have been flowing in from cruise passenger enthusiasts who can’t wait to get back on board – there will be certain backlash from those who want to dredge up the memories of the Ruby Princess.

And no doubt Australia’s tabloid media will willingly oblige!

They will point to health scares despite the stringent health protocols which will be in place as cruising resumes including mandatory vaccinations, pre-cruise testing, onboard testing and temperature testing, social distancing and onboard medical facilities.

The Australian cruise industry also now has great modelling from international cruise lines which have enjoyed a successful resumption with around 2500 sailings since July 2020. Their prevention, mitigation and response protocols will add huge value to the cruise industry re-start in Australia.

The question is what kind of welcome will the cruise line resumption get from the media – will it be troubled waters or smooth sailing …. The truth will probably lie somewhere in between the supporters and detractors.

Regardless the cruise lines have weathered greater economic storms in the last two years than the media can probably throw at them.

Bruce Piper - leading industry journalist and editor of Cruise Weekly, Trave Daily and Travel Bulletin, looks at the love/hate relationship between the media and cruise lines and has put together an insightful piece. It is worth a read as we approach a new year which will hopefully see cruising resume in Australia after too long a wait.

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