Australia: Big Deals As Ban On Cruise Ships Ends


The first international cruise ship arrived in Sydney Harbour on Easter Monday – two years since major cruise lines were banned from Australian waters due to the coronavirus pandemic.

P&O’s 77,441 gt Pacific Explorer (pictured below) glided through Sydney heads around 9.30am before making its way to the Overseas Passenger Terminal between the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House.

The ocean liner has been sitting stagnant off the coast of Cyprus for the past two years, along with sister ships Pacific Encounter and Pacific Adventure.

The arrival of Pacific Explorer effectively marks the end of all major COVID-related travel bans in Australia and will be a welcome relief for the country’s devastated $5 billion cruise industry.

The cruise industry has been in hiatus since March 2020 when the Australian Government banned foreign flagged ships. Cruise ships were the source of about 20 per cent of Australia’s early coronavirus infections. 

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) suggests Australia’s two-year cruise ban caused a $10 billion economic hit locally and affected more than 18,000 direct and indirect jobs. 

For now, international cruise ships will only operate in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.

The three states have announced COVID protocols, including full vaccination and testing for passengers, and a mask mandate for customers and crew when boarding and leaving the ship. 

Western Australia and the Northern Territory are allowing smaller ships to visit their ports, while Tasmania and South Australia are yet to announce their plans. 


Cruise operators are offering a range of incentives to entice passengers back. There are exclusive discounts, onboard credits, beverage packages, free Wi-Fi and other savings to be had by shopping around.

Royal Caribbean has been offering passengers 50 per cent off deposits – but you had to book between March 23 and April 5.

Couples can still save up to $2,800 on a junior suite booking for a seven-night Tasmania cruise from Sydney, leaving on December 7. The trip also comes with a $US400 ($A534) credit to spend on-board.

With many cruise lines not returning until the spring, it’s worth doing your research and booking in advance if you want to bad a deal.


  • P&O’s Pacific Explorer was the first cruise ship to sail in Australian waters since March 2020. It arrived in Sydney on Monday (April 18) with just 25 crew on board, ahead of its first cruise on May 31: a four night cruise to Brisbane. It docks at Brisbane’s new $177 million International Cruise Terminal on June 2. A second P&O ship, Pacific Encounter, will be the first based at the Brisbane terminal from August 20.
  • Princess Cruises’ Coral Princess will make her maiden Australian cruise from Brisbane, setting sail on June 16 with a three-night cruise.
  • Carnival Cruise Line will kick off sailings in Australia from October 5, starting with a four-day round-trip departing from Sydney, stopping off at Tangalooma (Moreton Island).
  • Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Spirit will begin her inaugural season in Sydney on December 22 after an extensive refurbishment, operating trans-Tasman and Pacific routes.
  • Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines will kick off its cruising season in Australia from October 21 in Sydney (Radiance of the Seas 7-night Tasmanian cruise), and November 9 from Brisbane.
  • Holland American Line’s Noordam returns to Sydney on November 12 for the 2022-23 Australia and New Zealand season.
  • Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth will commence her Australian homeport season on November 7 with the ship’s inaugural circumnavigation of Australia.
  • Seabourn’s Odyssey returns to Sydney on December 5 for 16-day sailings spanning Australia and New Zealand.
  • Celebrity Cruises will be bringing Celebrity Eclipse to Australian waters from October 2022 through April 2023, with a series of 3- to 13-night itineraries visiting Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific. This will be the first time Celebrity Eclipse comes to the region.
  • Viking Cruises will bring back Viking Orion for her seasonal Sydney and Auckland home ports between November 2022 and March 2023, and Viking Mars, one of the line’s newest ocean ships, for voyages in Asia, Australia and New Zealand, scheduled to arrive in Sydney on December 27, 2022.


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