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Australian cruise season grows as coronavirus pushes ships out of hot zones

The Australian cruise season has been extended, with popular cruise ships, including Sapphire Princess and Queen Elizabeth, sailing in our waters.

The move is the result of the coronavirus in Asia, and means thousands more cabins, port calls and itineraries for Aussie cruisers.

This week, Princess Cruises and Cunard announced they would be extending the Australian season for an extra 60 days, meaning that this is the best time to snag deals. There are cruises which are priced from as little as $69 per person, per night.

“The extension of Queen Elizabeth’s Australia and New Zealand season is a result of the current uncertainty due to travel restrictions and port closures in Asia and their effect on cruise operations in the region,” said Katrina McAlpine, commercial director for Cunard Australia.

“In response to the operational uncertainties in Asia, Queen Elizabeth will instead remain in local waters for another 60 days. This extended Australia season will benefit local tourism with 29 visits to ports around the country during her additional 60-day deployment.”

Like Cunard, Princess Cruises also revealed it would be basing the Sapphire Princess in Australia and moving the ship away from Singapore and China.

“With the ongoing uncertainty of travel restrictions and port closures in Asia impacting our cruise operations in the region, we hope that this extended deployment in Australia will benefit local tourism, particularly in regional areas with 102 visits to regional ports around the country during her year-long deployment,” said Stuart Allison, Princess Cruises’ senior vice-president in the Asia-Pacific.

Joel Katz, the Cruise Lines International Association’s Australasia managing director, welcomed the season extension.

“These new itineraries are great news, especially at a time when the tourism industry is focused on recovery,” he said.

“The extra deployments cruise lines have announced in Australia will boost visitation and provide new economic opportunities for destinations around the country.

“This is especially welcome in many of our regional communities impacted by the summer bushfires, so it’s great to see destinations like Eden and Kangaroo Island included in some of these new cruises. It’s also good news for cruise travellers, who now have greater choice and new options in this region.

“Importantly, cruise lines have put in place important procedures to ensure that the health and safety of passengers and crew remains the top priority, including enhanced screening measures prior to boarding. Together with the increased ability to cruise within our own region, this will help give reassurance to travellers.”

Royal Caribbean has also announced it will bring the Ultra-class Spectrum of the Seas to Australia and offer free cruises to those involved in fighting the bushfires. The ship will be sailing this weekend.

“In light of the ongoing coronavirus issues in China, Royal Caribbean has announced it will move Spectrum of the Seas to Australia as a gesture to thank the humanitarian efforts put forth to combat the wildfires”, says a Royal Caribbean fans’ blog, an unofficial site run out of the US.

“Spectrum of the Seas will travel to Australia and be deployed on complimentary cruises sailing from Sydney in support of Australia’s first responder community, who worked tirelessly over many weeks of the bushfire crisis.”

Further afield, the Norwegian Spirit, which was bound for Asian ports after her refurbishment, has been redeployed to the Mediterranean.

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