Australian-based cruise line, P&O Cruises, has announced that it will operate a vaccinated-only passenger policy once circumstances allow it to begin offering cruises again.
In the absence of an agreed pathway for the resumption of domestic cruising in Australia, P&O said it was unclear for how long it would require vaccinated-only cruises.
“We expect that P&O’s vaccination-only policy for guests and crew would provide further reassurance for local authorities in working with the sector in developing protocols for resuming domestic cruise holidays,” the company’s President, Sture Myrmell, said.
“We anticipate this policy will be in place until governments and public health authorities advise the broader community it has achieved the required public health outcomes and/or provides direction on public health management in the post-vaccination phase.”
Strong imperative to resume Aussie cruises
Myrmell said the imperative to resume cruise operations in Australia had never been greater.
“In the past 15 months, more than $6-billion in economic activity linked to cruising in Australia has been wiped [out], along with the livelihoods of suppliers including farmers, technical support services, tour operators and entertainers,” he stated.
P&O Cruises Australia said it would provide guests with further detail on the policy once there was an agreed re-start date for domestic cruising. However, the broad intent was to require proof of vaccination for those in the population eligible to be vaccinated at the time.
According to the company, the cruise industry has developed the most stringent health protocols likely to be found anywhere in tourism.
Protocols in line with global best practice
These protocols, which are being used in other parts of the world, include 100% testing of all guests and crew (with a negative result required prior to boarding) as well as extensive protocols covering crew quarantine, distancing, sanitation, health monitoring and response procedures.
“Governments have been connecting vaccination rates to plans to end lockdowns, border restrictions and, ultimately, re-opening Australia. In addition, our research shows that the vast majority of our guests want to cruise with other vaccinated Australians,” Myrmell said.
“P&O’s vaccination policy is an indication that everything possible is being done to support the resumption of cruising in a way that provides further reassurance for our guests and the authorities that public health and wellbeing are our top priority.”