Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2023

76 INTERVIEW The boomerang effect Australia faced an extended wait to restart cruising after the pandemic, but business is booming since returning in April 2022. Alice Chambers asks Marguerite Fitzgerald how Carnival Australia is bouncing back this season Most of the worldwide cruise industry ceased operations between March 2020 and August 2021 to limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus. While the rest of the world returned to the seas that August, Australia patiently waited until 18 April 2022 for the return of its first cruise ship, P&O Australia’s Pacific Explorer, before resuming operations on 31 May 2022. “Since the return of cruising in Australia, Carnival Australia has hosted hundreds of thousands of Australians on more than 60 international and domestic voyages,” says Marguerite Fitzgerald, president of Carnival Australia, discussing the long-anticipated return of cruising in the region. “Rebuilding the cruise industry hasn’t been easy but it remains incredibly popular with thousands of Australians who have waited a long time for a holiday.” Since May 2022, Carnival Australia’s six brands – including Carnival Cruise Line, Cunard, Holland America Line, P&O Australia, Princess Cruises and Seabourn – relaunched operations as soon as possible. “Eighteen ships from Carnival Australia’s brands are set for a peak summer cruise season, making 667 turnarounds and port calls in 33 destinations across the country,” says Fitzgerald. “This is a significant increase in turnaround calls compared to preCovid cruising numbers in Australia.” Between 1 September 2022 and 30 April 2023, Carnival Australia predicts to generate more than AUS$1 billion (S$673 million) in economic revenue across the country via its three brands P&O Cruises Australia, Princess Cruises and Carnival Cruise Line, which are cruising year-round in Australia. P&O Cruises Australia began offering austral summer itineraries in the region in December 2022. Throughout the season, Pacific Adventure, Pacific Encounter and Pacific Explorer will collectively sail 114 cruises, making 200 calls to Australian ports and 20 maiden visits. “The highlights of this season include the return of P&O’s popular Melbourne Cup and Australian Open Tennis cruises, as well as its new solar eclipse cruise in Western Australia in April 2023,” says Fitzgerald. The ‘Ningaloo King of Eclipses’ itinerary will travel from the north-west Cape of Western Australia to enable guests to watch as the sun, moon and earth align in the first hybrid solar eclipse to be visible from Australia in 1,000 years. Meanwhile, Princess Cruises will homeport Majestic Princess in Sydney, “ Rebuilding the cruise industry hasn’t been easy but it remains incredibly popular with thousands of Australians” Guests adhering to Covid-19 protocols during a theatre production by P&O Australia