The world’s largest cruise industry association will introduce tough new COVID-19 measures, to come into effect when the current domestic ban on cruising soon lifts.
- The CLIA says its COVID-safe plans meet or exceed medical guidelines
- The industry is developing guidelines with the Federal Government
- Under the current plans, ships wouldn’t leave Australian waters until international travel restrictions lift
The Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) has confirmed it will impose mandatory COVID-19 tests for guests and crew before boarding, limit passenger numbers, and conduct daily health monitoring and temperature checks for all on board.
Joel Katz, CLIA’s managing director for Australasia, wants the Australian Government to replace the current ban on cruising, which expires on December 17, with a process that would allow cruise lines to start looking at a carefully managed resumption in 2021.
“Australia’s relative success in stemming community transmission of COVID-19 — together with the Australasian cruise industry’s robust strategy — creates an opportunity for a tightly managed and phased revival of the country’s $5 billion-a-year cruise industry,” Mr Katz said.
“This would initially involve restricted local cruises for local residents only, with limited passenger numbers, 100 per cent testing of guests and crew, and extensive screening and sanitation protocols in place.”
Under the proposed protocols, cruise ships would initially operate within Australian state or national borders while travel restrictions are in place and would be quarantined upon their return to Australian shores.
CLIA said its COVID-19 safety plan “is extensive and meets or exceeds the Communicable Diseases Network of Australia (CDNA) guidelines”.
Mr Katz said the industry is continuing to work with the Federal Government to develop a “framework for the resumption of cruising”.
Industry backs cruise controls
A Carnival Australia spokesman said the company welcomed CLIA’s proposal.
“The peak industry body Cruise Lines International Association Australasia is taking the lead in working with the Federal Government and government authorities in relation to the restart of cruising when the time is right,” he said.
The proposed guidelines come after a detailed examination into the Ruby Princess cruise ship’ arrival and the failings that led to it being at the centre of one of Australia’s largest coronavirus outbreaks.
Thousands of passengers were allowed to disembark when it docked in Sydney at the conclusion of two separate voyages in March.
On both occasions, the ship, owned by company Princess Cruises, was docked in Sydney, and some passengers were at the time displaying COVID-19 symptoms.
In the weeks that followed, 663 of the passengers tested positive for COVID-19 in Australia, and around the world, and 28 people died.
An inquiry was held in August and found the Ruby Princess cruise ship outbreak resulted from “serious”, “inexcusable” and “inexplicable” mistakes by NSW Health.
But the report from the special commission of inquiry made few recommendations, saying health authorities had recognised failings, and would “do things differently if they had their time again”.
“It is inappropriate and unhelpful to make recommendations to experts that in truth amount to no more than ‘do your job’,” Commissioner Bret Walker SC said in his report.