Amid continuing uncertainty about the resumption of cruising, P&O Cruises Australia today extended its voluntary pause in operations for a further month until mid-February next year.
The pause applies to cruises scheduled to depart from 15 January 2022 to 14 February 2022.
President of P&O Cruises Australia, Sture Myrmell, said the voluntary pause had been extended because of the absence of a clear pathway for a return to cruising in Australia.
“We are naturally disappointed for our guests and our many suppliers to have to extend the pause in operations by a further month,” Myrmell said.
Vital need for a pathway to resumption
“With society rapidly reopening, including social gathering and travel just weeks away, there is a vital need for a pathway for the staged resumption of domestic cruising.
“Our guests have made it clear they want to cruise again and we look forward to welcoming them on board as soon as possible – supported by comprehensive protocols based on world’s best public health practice and standards.
He added: “We are also mindful of the many businesses who rely on cruising for their livelihoods across food and fresh produce, marine engineering and logistics, entertainment and, of course, travel agents.”
P&O Cruises Australia has already announced its intention to resume domestic operations with cruises for fully vaccinated guests and crew.
Guests whose bookings have been affected will be notified of the pause and options available either directly or via their appointed travel agent, the company said.
Massive losses for cruise line operators
Together, Carnival, the world’s largest cruise company, and the two other biggest cruise operators, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line, lost nearly US$900-million each month during the pandemic, according to credit rating agency Moody’s.
Quoting the Cruise Lines International Association, the New York Times reported recently that the cruise industry carried 80 percent fewer passengers last year (2020) compared to 2019.
But the sector is starting to make a comeback. The same Times article said cruise companies restarted operations in Europe and Asia late last year and, after months of preparations to meet stringent health and safety guidelines set by authorities, cruise lines have started to welcome back passengers for US sailings.
In the US, demand is now outweighing supply, with many itineraries fully booked throughout the summer.