By Emma Harrington
Published: Friday, May 28, 2021
After a pandemic-induced hiatus, cruise holidays are back on the horizon. Whether you’re a seasoned cruiser or thinking about setting sail for the first time, we answer some FAQs about what to expect.
To say 2020 was a challenging year for the travel industry would be an enormous understatement.
Overnight, the RAA Travel team went from booking dream holidays to getting members home safely and cancelling trips for those yet to depart. Agents re-booked trips closer to home and some staff were re-deployed across RAA while tight travel restrictions were in place.
Fortunately, with borders re-opening and the COVID-19 vaccination rolling out in Australia, there are positive changes on the horizon and travellers are rushing to book trips for the upcoming 2022/23 cruise season.
To help you navigate the sea of information, we spoke to RAA Travel General Manager Gina Norman.
What are cruise lines doing to get us back on the ocean safely?
Cruise companies have been working hard to introduce a range of extra health and safety measures to ensure the wellbeing of their passengers.
Representing more than 60 cruise lines around the world, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has been working with health experts to develop a new health framework.
For ships carrying more than 100 passengers, all members of CLIA globally have agreed to test every member of staff prior to their departure from home and embarking the ship.
There will also be regular testing on board and daily symptom screening for staff. For passengers, a negative test will be required prior to hopping aboard.
Ships will need onboard equipment to test for COVID-19 and reserved cabins for isolation.
Medical staff will be required to provide specialised care for passengers with COVID-19.
Cruise lines have worked closely with health experts to ensure shore tours operate to the same standards so that both passengers and the communities they visit are protected.
Will I need to be vaccinated to cruise?
There isn’t a standardised vaccine mandate just yet. Cruise lines are requiring UK residents to be vaccinated for COVID-19 for the UK cruising season, planned to go ahead over the Australian winter.
However, they haven’t added this to their wider policy yet – it’s only in place for those particular cruises.
What happens if I book a cruise and it’s cancelled?
From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, large cruise operators have offered either full refunds or the option to take a Future Cruise Credit with extra benefits such as bonus onboard credits.
Cruise lines have been exceptional in continually assessing how likely cruises are to depart and in most cases they’re cancelling cruises ahead of any government bans in the interest of public health and safety.
Early cancellation also gives travellers an option to get their money back and book a different kind of holiday if they choose.
A lot of cruise lines currently have flexible deposit conditions, so you can book popular, bucket-list trips such as Europe and Alaska now.
Where can I cruise to within Australia?
Right now, cruise-lovers have a few options within Australian waters. Coral Expeditions is operating in Western Australia.
Later this year, they’ll be cruising to and from Adelaide. Tradewinds Voyages – the world’s largest square-rigged sailing vessel – is also scheduled to do an Australian circumnavigation later this year.
Many cruise lines such as Ponant, Aurora, APT and Scenic, are hoping to set sail around the Kimberley coast during our winter.
International cruise ships carrying more than 100 passengers are prohibited from entering Australian waters until at least 17 June.
CLIA and the Federal Government have confirmed they’re working on a framework for cruising to resume in Australia, so we’re hoping to see larger cruise lines here for summer.
When will international cruises resume?
We hope to see announcements soon and there’s been talk of travel bubbles but it’s going to depend on Australia’s progress with vaccinations as well as that of countries cruise ships travel to.
The first cruises from Australia are likely to be domestic and intra-state cruises for Australian residents only. Cruise lines are hoping bubbles, like the one with New Zealand, will open-up to include cruise ships later this year, which will see them able to operate return trips from Australia to destinations such as the South Pacific Islands.
Further afield, Europe and Alaska are destinations cruisers are keen to explore in 2022.
Small-ship and expedition cruising are highly sought after. Oceania Cruises’ circumnavigation of Australia has been in high demand. As a result of the pandemic, Aurora Expeditions is offering cruises to Antarctica from Hobart. Bucket-list trips like Antarctica for the end of 2022 will sell quickly, with RAA members receiving exclusive benefits with Quark Expeditions.
Why book your cruise with RAA?
RAA has been helping South Australians with their travel plans for more than 60 years, and over that time we’ve learnt a lot about cruising. Because we work closely with cruise companies, we’re able to offer our members exclusive offers and discounts.
As a one-stop travel shop, we can help organise visas, flights, cabin selection, online check-in, shore excursions, pre and post-cruise accommodation, insurance and much more.
If you have a Future Cruise Credit, our travel experts can help you use your credit regardless of where your original cruise was booked.
From your first enquiry to the day you return home with cherished memories, you can rest assured you’ll be in good hands with our experienced travel experts.