Cruise

Two-way trans-Tasman bubble gives NCL chief hope of Aussie cruise restart

Huntley Mitchell

Huntley Mitchell

Norwegian Cruise Line’s president and CEO is “hopeful” of welcoming Aussie passengers back in the second half of 2021, but says guest safety is the number one priority.

Speaking at a virtual media roundtable event yesterday, Harry Sommer said the cruise line was “really hardened” by the recent announcement of two-way, quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand from Monday 19 April.

“Australia has always been an extremely strong market for us,” he said.

“We’re hoping by late summer or fall, people from Australia that will be vaccinated will be able to go to places that have low prevalence [of COVID-19] and dealing with only other vaccinated people, and come back and not have to go through any sort of draconian quarantine or anything along those lines.

“The critical point for us is for people to realise they will be safe and have a great vacation.

“If this means Australians first start up on [Norwegian Spirit] when she starts up her cruises between Australia and New Zealand, that’s okay too. As long as people are comfortable while making the booking.”

The comments by NCL’s boss come after its parent company, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH), announced a two-pronged plan for its return to cruising this winter.

The company’s phased cruise resumption will see sailings originating in Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Greece beginning in July 2021 with Norwegian Joy, Norwegian Jade and Norwegian Gem.

NCLH has also submitted a proposal to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlining its plan to restart cruising from US ports from 4 July, and requesting the CDC lift the Conditional Sail Order.

The company said all initial voyages will operate with fully vaccinated guests and crew in addition to its multi-layered SailSAFE health and safety program, which includes universal COVID-19 testing prior to embarkation.

Furthermore, NCLH has announced the formation of the SailSAFE Global Health and Wellness Council, chaired by former Commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, Dr Scott Gottlieb, which will complement the work of the Healthy Sail Panel.

To celebrate NCL’s cruising comeback, the line has announced the premiere of EMBARK – The Series, a docuseries chronicling the brand’s return to the water.

The first of five episodes will premiere on 16 April 2021 at 10am AEST. You can watch them all here.

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