- Smaller interstate expedition vessels to resume cruising in WA from April 17
- Cruise ships with up to a maximum of 350 persons can recommence with safeguards
- Safe and staged resumption gives boost to North West coast businesses and local economy to operate in-season - aligned with the Northern Territory
- Plans to enable the return of larger cruise ships to WA ports set for October
The State Government has established stringent measures and protocols in readiness for the safe and staged resumption of cruising in Western Australia.
This follows the Federal Government's decision to lift the Biosecurity declaration and ban on cruise shipping in Australia, effective April 17, 2022, which would allow States and the Northern Territory to determine when the recommencement of cruises could occur in each jurisdiction.
WA's Chief Health Officer will release protocols for both Australian and international flagged cruise ships operating in WA waters, which as a starting point, permits cruise ships with up to a maximum of 350 persons (guests and crew), in line with neighbouring jurisdictions including the Northern Territory.
Starting from April 17, the return of smaller expedition vessels, such as those owned by Ponant and Silversea, will be welcome news for those Australians who hold bookings on Kimberley voyages, Aboriginal tour operators and other attractions that receive revenue from cruise activity.
Local businesses in the region that service the cruise sector, and more broadly, WA tourism and hospitality business operators, will also benefit from the resumption which attracts more visitors to the region.
All cruise vessels operating in WA are required to have a COVID-19 management plan prior to undertaking itineraries in WA waters, and under State border requirements all crew and passengers will be required to be double dose vaccinated and have received a third dose, if eligible.
Pre-COVID-19, there were 106 cruise ship visits to WA in 2019-20, generating $261.9 million for WA's economy, and supporting about 935 jobs.
The protocols enable the cruise sector to operate from April through to September, in time to offer visitors bucket-list experiences of the spectacular North West coast between Broome and Darwin and potentially other ports on the WA coast.
Already, two high yield international expedition cruise operators are ready to return to the Kimberley enabling Australian guests to sail the North West coast during the 2022 Kimberley cruise season.
In addition to the smaller cruise vessels and pending the latest health advice, from October 1, 2022, Fremantle and other regional WA port destinations, including Esperance, Albany, Busselton, Bunbury, Geraldton, Exmouth, Port Hedland and Broome, will be set to welcome the safe return of larger cruise ships for their upcoming season.
Cruise companies will be required to make a declaration regarding their responsibilities prior to arrival.
It is anticipated the Cunard's Queen Elizabeth will be the first of the larger vessels to visit Fremantle on November 7, 2022.
Comments attributed to Premier Mark McGowan:
"The ability for the cruise shipping sector to safely resume operations in WA in a safe and progressive way will provide a significant economic boost to the tourism sector, especially Broome in the near term, for the Kimberley cruise season.
"Our safe and staged approach to the return of cruise shipping means we provide an avenue for these businesses to operate safely once their cruising season starts, while managing the public health risk.
"The interim measures which allow smaller vessels to operate similar to what our neighbours in the Northern Territory are doing for the cruise season in the northern waters."
Comments attributed to Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson:
"The advice we've received indicates that it is now possible for cruising to resume in Western Australia with safeguards in place.
"Importantly, all cruise liners will need to have a COVID-19 management plan and meet vaccination requirements."
Comments attributed to Tourism Minister Roger Cook:
"The cruise ship sector has potential to make a significant contribution to grow jobs and provide a boost to the tourism sector, and pre-COVID-19, injected millions across the State's port destinations each year.
"Safely resuming the cruise shipping sector will see the cruise industry grow across Western Australia's 10 cruise destinations into the future."