Australia and Spain Extend Ban on Cruise Ships

file photo courtesy Port Authority of New South Wales

Published May 22, 2020 1:48 PM by The Maritime Executive

In the latest blow to the cruise industry, Australia announced that it is extending its ban on cruise ships, while other countries around the world also continue to ban cruise ships from arriving in their ports. 

Australia’s Minister for Health extended until September 17, 2020 the restrictions that prohibits international cruise ships having sailed from a foreign port from entering an Australian port. This decision extends the rules first imposed on March 27 that prohibited any cruise ship capable of carrying more than 100 passengers from operating cruises in Australia.

In making the announcement, the Australian Border Force said that it has been in constant contact with the cruise industry, which the ABF noted has been cooperative and understands the Government’s overwhelming priority to ensure the health and safety of the broader Australian community.

Most of the cruise ships that operate from Australia departed the area when the restrictions were announced. Several of the ships are currently among the gathering around Manila transporting crew home. Other cruise ships that had been sailing from Australia were reportedly being laid up in the area around Singapore. 

While the current decision leaves open the possibility that cruises might still operate in Australia’s summer season, which normally begins in September, it is still seen as a blow to the cruise industry.

There had been some hope that there might be a loosening of the restrictions to permit cruises in the local waters, possibly even between Australia and New Zealand. One cruise line, Silversea Cruises, has speculated that it might offer cruises sailing solely around New Zealand calling at ports on the north and south islands. New Zealand’s current cruise ship ban is set to expire on June 30.

Australia’s decision came just days after Spain also extended its restriction on cruise ships entering Spanish ports. While Spain has reduced some restrictions on daily life and some travel bands, the restrictions on the cruise industry may remain in effect until the country’s state of emergency has been lifted. 

The United States and Canada also jointly announced that they were extending their joint ban on non-essential travel across their joint border. It had been set to expire this week but was extended till late June.

Previously, Canada’s federal government had ordered its ports closed until July 1. While there has been no change in the timing of Canada’s restrictions many of the ports believe they will not see cruise ships in 2020. As previously reported, the health ministers in British Columbia said they are not in favor of cruises for their province in 2020. On Canada’s east coast, the ports of Halifax and Saint John, New Brunswick both reported at their respective annual meetings that they are not expecting significant cruise ship calls this year.