Australia's largest cruise operators have announced the further suspension of their sailings, with the cancellation of 50 scheduled cruises due to COVID-19.
Princess Cruises, P&O, Royal Caribbean and Carnival on Thursday announced their upcoming cruises would be cancelled. P&O and Carnival said cruises would resume on December 2, while Princess has delayed operations until December 12.
Royal Caribbean has announced the suspension of their planned cruises until October 31.
The federal government's ban on cruise ships entering Australian waters is due to end on September 17. The ban came into force on March 27 and was extended by three months in May in the wake of several COVID-19 outbreaks on board cruise ships, including the Ruby Princess docked in Sydney.
P&O has cancelled 20 cruises, including its popular Melbourne Cup cruise that was due to depart from Brisbane on October 31. The first affected P&O cruise was the planned departure of the Pacific Dawn from Melbourne to Fiji on October 30.
Nineteen Princess cruises are now cancelled, beginning with a southern Australia cruise from Fremantle to Adelaide on board the Sea Princess that was due to depart on November 4. The first Princess cruise from Sydney cancelled is the November 5 return sailing of the Majestic Princess to New Zealand.
Royal Caribbean has cancelled eight cruises, including Voyager of the Seas' planned cruise from Hong Kong to Sydney departing October 5. The first Australia-based cruise to be cancelled is a seven-night voyage around South Australia and Tasmania that was scheduled to depart on October 17. Carnival has cancelled three cruises, starting with a two-night "sampler" cruise departing Sydney on October 16.
Princess said passengers who had paid their booking in full on the affected cruises would receive a future cruise credit for the value of their booking, plus an additional 25 per cent credit. Passengers who had not paid in full would receive a credit double the value of their original deposit. Credits will be valid for cruises until May 1, 2022.
Passengers not wanting to receive a credit would receive a refund of the money paid. Those passengers have until September 30 to apply for a refund, otherwise they will automatically receive a credit.
Royal Caribbean and Carnival will also provide refunds or a credit valued at 125 per cent of the amount passengers paid, which is valid for cruises until April 30, 2022.
P&O said passengers would be entitled to a full refund or receive a bonus if they chose to opt for a future cruise credit that can be used to book until December 2021.
"It is clear that society is not yet ready to return to sailing and we will continue to liaise with governments and public health experts as all align on how people should gather and holiday," said P&O Cruises president Sture Myrmell.
The suspension of cruising until December eats into Australia's high cruising season, which typically runs from November to March. Earlier this year, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), estimated suspension of cruising into the summer peak could cost the economy $1.4 billion and put 4800 jobs at risk.