Cruise

P&O marks big return as cruise ban finally lifts

To celebrate Australia’s return to cruising, three water cannon tugs will form a guard of honour and escort for P&O Cruises Australia flagship Pacific Explorer as the ship returns to her home port on Monday after an absence of more than two years.

Port Authority of NSW fire tug, Shirley Smith, will take the lead joining two water cannon tugs operated by Engage Towage — Martinique and Fitzroy — with all three sending up huge plumes of water to salute Pacific Explorer’s arrival.

Two other Engage tugs, Cook and Diamantina, will also be on duty carrying out operational requirements for the arrival of a cruise ship in Sydney Harbour.

President of Carnival Australia and P&O Cruises Australia Marguerite Fitzgerald and NSW Minister for Transport and Veterans David Elliott said the spectacular welcome planned for Pacific Explorer would be emblematic of the resumption of cruise tourism and its contribution to the NSW economy.

Fitzgerald said: “Pacific Explorer’s return will be a momentous day that signals the resurgence of cruising in Australia after two difficult years for the businesses and people whose livelihoods depend on it. There could be no better way to welcome Pacific Explorer home than to have the harbour’s tugs out in force to greet her. It doesn’t get more Sydney than that.”

Pacific Explorer is scheduled to arrive at Sydney Heads at approximately 9:30 am on Easter Monday before making her way to the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay to be alongside at approximately 10:30 am.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) managing director Australasia Joel Katz weighed in on Australia’s return to cruising.

He said extensive new health protocols would allow a phased revival of one of the world’s most passionate cruise markets.

“More than a million Australians took an ocean cruise every year before the pandemic and we now have an opportunity to return to sailing and revive an industry that was worth more than $5 billion annually to the Australian economy,” Katz said.

“The end of the cruise suspension is huge landmark and will be celebrated by many thousands of Australians whose livelihoods depend on cruising.”

Cruise tourism supports employment across many thousands of Australian businesses including travel agents, tour operators, retailers, hotels, restaurants, food and produce providers, entertainers, transport providers, port services and other industry suppliers.

It is estimated the suspension of cruising has cost the economy more than $10 billion since early 2020.

“Millions of people have already sailed in more than 80 other countries where cruising has already resumed, with stringent new health measures in place,” Katz said.

“Cruise lines have done an enormous amount of work with medical experts internationally which has resulted in health protocols that are among the most extensive to be found anywhere in world tourism.”

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,” Katz said.

“With these measures in place, Australia now has an opportunity to begin a responsible recovery in an industry that has long been a vital part of our tourism economy.”



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