Cruise

APT takes on government’s cruise ban

APT is embroiled in a legal stoush with the government in a bid to overturn the ban on foreign cruise ships in Australian waters.

The travel group is trying to stop authorities from forcing its ship the Caledonian Sky, a small Bahamas-flagged cruise ship, to leave Australian waters, according to The Guardian.

Last month, federal government Health Minister Greg Hunt ordered foreign-registered cruise ships to leave Australian waters to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

APT is now asking the federal court to rule part of the order as invalid.

During a hearing held by videolink on Tuesday, judge Angus Stewart said the travel group’s request “potentially affects all foreign cruise vessels in Australian territory and not only the particular vessel otherwise directly affected by this case”.

Border Force commissioner Michael Outram said the ship will not be removed until 5pm Thursday, pending a hearing on Wednesday afternoon. Travel Weekly understands the hearing has been postponed.

“Let me make clear the government’s policy intent here is that all cruise ships that are in Australian waters that are not flagged or registered in Australia are to depart Australian waters and we’re working to achieve that outcome,” Outram said, according to The Guardian.

He said that at the time of Hunt’s order, there were 20 foreign-registered cruise ships in Australian waters, 13 of which have left, with a further four expected to have departed Thursday afternoon.

Earlier this week, NSW Police pulled off the biggest maritime operation Sydney has seen during peacetime to ready ships for return to their home port.

This comes as Carnival’s embattled cruise ship Ruby Princess was given permission to berth in Port Kembla for up to 10 days to allow safer access for medical assessments, treatment or emergency extractions of crew.

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