Kimberley season to go ahead as WA flags cruise resumption

Kimberley season to go ahead as WA flags cruise resumption

Cruising the Kimberley is back following a long-awaited announcement from the Western Australia government.

Aussie expedition enthusiasts have been waiting with bated breath since Health Minister announced last month that Australia’s cruise ban would lift on 17 April, pending state approval.

Well, now, they can breathe easy because the Western Australian government has announced a staged resumption of cruising due to kick off on the same date.

From Sunday 17 April, small interstate cruise ships with up to a maximum of 350 guests and crew, like those owned by Ponant and Silversea, will be permitted in WA, which is great news for those with bookings on Kimberley voyages, Aboriginal tour operators and other attractions that receive revenue from cruise activity.

Ships will need to have a COVID-19 management plan in place, and both crew and passengers must be up-to-date on their COVID vaccines.

According to figures released by the WA government, pre-COVID-19, there were 106 cruise ship visits to WA in 2019-20, generating $261.9 million for WA’s economy, and supporting about 935 jobs.

Silversea’s managing director for the Asia-Pacific, Adam Radwanski, said the line’s guests have been waiting patiently for this news.

“This season is very close to being sold out; and we anticipate a surge of interest this week,” he said

“The remote Kimberley region is best accessed by ship, and these voyages unlock breathtaking natural wonders in places few people have been.”

Protocols released by the state government will allow the cruise sector to operate from April through to September, in time to offer visitors bucket-list experiences of the North West coast between Broome and Darwin and potentially other ports on the WA coast.

Larger ships will be allowed to return to WA port destinations, including Esperance, Albany, Busselton, Bunbury, Geraldton, Exmouth, Port Hedland and Broome from October, pending the latest health advice.

As part of the protocols, cruise companies will need to make a declaration regarding their responsibilities prior to arrival.

Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth is expected to be the first of the larger vessels to visit Fremantle on 7 November, 2022.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said the resumption of cruising in WA will provide a significant economic boost to the tourism sector, especially Broome in the near term, for the Kimberley cruise season.

“Our safe and staged approach to the return of cruise shipping means we provide an avenue for these businesses to operate safely once their cruising season starts, while managing the public health risk,” he said.

“The interim measures which allow smaller vessels to operate similar to what our neighbours in the Northern Territory are doing for the cruise season in the northern waters.”

Ponant’s Le Bellot ship on the Kimberley coast (APT)

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