All sailings of the Princess Cruises ships Sun Princess and Sea Princess for this summer and next year have been cancelled after the cruise line announced both ships would be sold.
The ships are two of 18 to be sold by Carnival Corp, the parent company of Princess Cruises along with the Costa and Carnival cruise lines.
Princess Cruises said in a statement that due to the imminent departure of the ships from the line's fleet, all scheduled sailings for Sun Princess from December 23 through to August 14 next year and for Sea Princess from December 23 through to November 9 next year are cancelled. Fifty-five cruises from Australia are now cancelled, along with 14 other international sailings.
The company did not disclose the buyer for the two ships.
Princess said passengers booked on the ships would be notified and offered alternative cruises or refunds if they prefer.
"Sun Princess and Sea Princess contributed to significant growth in Australian cruising," said Princess Cruises president Jan Swartz.
"Both ships defined the premium cruise experience with Australians and New Zealanders spending close to 14 million nights aboard these ships. While it is never easy to say goodbye to any ship in our fleet, this will allow us to deploy newer ships, enhancing our offerings for Australia cruisers and focus on bringing into service exciting new builds like the upcoming delivery of Enchanted Princess."
Sun Princess launched in 1995 and, with capacity for 2000 passengers, was one of the world's largest cruise ships at the time. It first home ported in Australia in 2007 and has plied Australia waters every summer season since then.
Carnival Corp is the world's largest cruise company, making up 45 per cent of the market worldwide. The company recently said the downturn in cruising, largely due to bans on cruise ships operating in several markets including Australia and the US, had accelerated plans to remove older, less efficient vessels from its fleet.
Carnival Corp is the owner of Ruby Princess, which had a COVID-19 outbreak on board in March while based in Sydney, which was then linked to 900 cases around the country after health authorities allowed ill passengers to disembark.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) this week announced mandatory health and safety measures would be introduced to support the resumption of cruising in the Americas.
The new measures have been submitted to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
They include COVID-19 testing for all passengers and crew prior to embarkation; mandatory masks for all passengers and crew where physical distancing cannot be maintained and new air management and ventilation strategies to increase fresh air onboard.
CLIA's managing director for Australasia Joel Katz welcomed the move, saying it would help inform global measures.
"The core elements, which are applicable to CLIA member ocean-going cruise ships operating in the Americas, will help inform CLIA's global policy work, and represent an important milestone to support our ongoing discussions with the Australian and New Zealand governments," he said.
The Australian government banned international cruise ships in March following several outbreaks of COVID-19 on board vessels around the world. The ban has been extended several times and is now set to end on December 17.
CLIA warned earlier this year that suspension of cruising into the summer peak season could cost thousands of jobs and billions to the economy.
It says cruise tourism is worth $5.2 billion a year to the Australian economy and supports more than 18,000 jobs.