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Voice of the Commonwealth - The Global Influencer

Voice of the Commonwealth - The Global Influencer

First cruise ship arrives in Sydney after 2-year pandemic hiatus

AUSTRALIA – The first cruise ship to sail into Sydney in over two years was greeted with tug boats and water cannons.

P&O Cruises Australia led the charge as Australia reopened its maritime borders to pleasure cruisers. The flagship Pacific Explorer entered Circular Quay shortly after 10:30 on Monday. Onlookers stopped to watch the giant, white ship cruise past the sails of the Sydney Opera House.

250 staff had sailed without passengers from Cyprus, where the ship waited out the Pandemic. The journey of 18000 kilometers took them 28 days to complete.

Although it will be a further wait until the 31 of May, and the first guests depart on a trip to Brisbane. However, the Explorer’s arrival marks an end to a 25-month long pause in operations for the country’s AU$5 billion cruise industry.

“The day has finally arrived for Sydney Harbour to once again reclaim its rightful place as the epicenter of local and international cruising in Australia,” said Transport Minister for New South Wales, David Elliott, adding that the city was ready to welcome cruising tourists “with open arms.”

A statement from cruise line P&O Australia said the ship’s arrival in Sydney yesterday “points to the psychological and economic boost that the return of cruising conveys during the pathway out of the pandemic.

“We expect the same positive dynamic to come to the fore when cruising resumes in New Zealand.”

However, there is as yet no timeline as to the return of international pleasure cruisers to New Zealand’s ports and the end of the Maritime Border Order.

P&O said it and other cruise industry stakeholders continue to have constructive engagement with government authorities in New Zealand with a view to restart this year.

The Pacific Explorer is currently scheduled to arrive in Auckland from 30 June, subject to travel restrictions.

Other cruise lines, including Silversea and NCL have been rebuilding their itineraries out of New Zealand as signs suggest that the ban on cruise ships could soon be lifted.

With the planned opening of New Zealand’s borders to leisure visa-waiver countries next month, Minister for Tourism Stuart Nash said that a cruise restart was in the works.

“They’re [cruises] an important part of the tourism sector,” said Nash during the announcement of an accelerated border reopening.

“There’s no doubt about that, but what we’re doing is we’re slowly opening up the tourism market as we ready as a country, and at a point in time cruise will be back.”

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