Major discounts revealed: How NSW’s cruises will recover
Cruise companies are offering sales in a bid to draw back travellers after the pandemic brought the industry to a halt.
Companies have slashed fares by up to 70 per cent, even though the federal government has yet to approve the resumption of cruise travel. Insiders hope a phased return to travel, particularly to neighbouring regions, is on the cards.
Blue Lagoon Cruises has 70 per cent off cruises until June 2022, with flexibility to choose travel dates once borders reopen.
Carnival Cruises is offering up to 38 per cent off local cruises including trips from Sydney to Brisbane, Moreton Island, and the South Pacific, with "extra value" deals including a 50 per cent reduced deposit.
Royal Caribbean slashed the price for its 2021 sailing by up to 30 per cent, and aims to resume global operations by August 1 this year.
Princess Cruises also has reduced prices for trips around New Zealand, the South Pacific, Asia, Japan and Australia.
Australian Border Force has extended a travel ban on cruise ships until September 17. But cruise ship operators hope a travel bubble to nearby New Zealand and the South Pacific could help the industry get back on its feet.
Cruise Lines International Association managing director Joel Katz said the industry was using this time to create new health protocols and solutions.
However, federal Trade and Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said: "I believe health officials will be very cautious about giving a green light to cruise shipping anytime soon."
It comes as Australian doctor Dr John Parker reveals how the industry could change in a post-COVID world.
Dr Parker was sent in to contain coronavirus outbreaks on the Ruby Princess in Wollongong, the Diamond Princess in Tokyo and the Grand Princess in San Francisco.
And while he said cruising would never be the same, he was adamant he would go on a cruise on those very ships in the future.
Dr Parker now is advising companies on how to make ships safer from crew accommodation through to airconditioning, infection control and even apps that could help the ship's doctor know in real time whether any passengers or crew were sick.
It will be safe for passengers to get aboard the infected ships in the future because the virus does not live very long on its own, he said.
Within a couple of weeks any viral particles left on infected cruise ships or hotel rooms housing quarantined passengers would no longer be infectious, he said.
However, he says cruising will never be the same after COVID-19.
"It won't be quite as crowded. You've got to have social distancing and the crew will have to have individual cabins," he said.
Filters on airconditioning systems on airlines are of a much higher standard than those on cruise ships and that is something cruise companies may wish to modify, he said.
Another innovation could be to extend an app set up for infected crew members to all passengers and crew so they could record their temperature each day.
"You could see everyone's temperature in real time, it would be a useful tool for the future," he said.
Originally published as Major discounts revealed: How NSW's cruises will recover