Countries across the world are reevaluating their relationship with the cruise industry. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control has issued a no-sail order, prohibiting cruise ships from calling on U.S. ports until July 24. Yesterday, Canada extended its prohibition through October 31. And today, Australia is questioning the future of its relationship with cruising.
TheGuardian.com reports that Australia's ban on cruise ships is set to end on September 17, allowing the vessels to begin calling on the country's ports thereafter. The report indicates that the Royal Caribbean Ovation of the Seas is set to depart from Hawaii on September 27, bound for Sydney.
The prospect that cruising could return so soon has many feeling a sense of angst after the country suffered hundreds of cases of coronavirus as a result of passengers who had contracted the illness on cruise ships.
The current pause in cruising is allowing Australian officials the rare opportunity to reevaluate the way the country approaches cruise travel and potentially make significant changes. The report quoted Dean Summers, the Australian Coordinator for the International Transport Workers Federation, as saying, “I think this is the only opportunity in my lifetime to make some changes and make these people live up to the standards that we expect.”
The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the unregulated way in which cruise companies operate, and the significant risk populations take when allowing them to operate in this manner. By last estimate there are currently tens of thousands of cruise ship crew members currently stranded aboard cruise vessels across the world, many of them battling coronavirus with inadequate access to medical care.
Patty Crumlin, national secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, echoed Dean Summers' sentiment that this is a unique opportunity to change the status quo. “The Australian government not only has a unique opportunity but a moral obligation, to learn from the Covid-19 pandemic and radically reform the way the cruise ship industry is regulated before allowing operations to restart in Australian waters,” she said.