The first cruise ship to arrive in Australia since the COVID-19 pandemic docked in Sydney Harbour on 18APR, as P&O Cruises Australia’s flagship, Pacific Explorer, returned to its homeport.
According to P&O Cruises Australia on social media, the vessel received a ceremonial water cannon salute celebrating its arrival in the city. Pacific Explored passed through Sydney Heads at around 9:30 a.m. local time before sailing into Circular Quay with an escort of "official vessels" and Sydney "boaties."
Pacific Explorer's arrival in Sydney completed a 28-day voyage from Europe where the ship had been anchored for the duration of the pandemic. The vessel arrived with 250 crew members on board, but with no passengers. Its first trip with passengers since the start of the pandemic is 31MAY, when it sails to Brisbane, reports ABC News Australia.
Australia announced a ban on cruise ships on 15MAR 2020, which lasted for 764 days. While it is up to the Australian states to decide when cruise ships can enter, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland have agreed to welcome the vessels from as of 17APR, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
"This is the start of the rebuilding, and our other cruise lines and I'm sure our competitor cruise lines have their plans now for ships to come back to the Australian market," said a spokesman from P&O Cruises.