Doubts over plans to bring cruise ships back to Cairns

 

THE return of cruise ships to the Far North, originally set to bring close on 95,000 people from 82 visits in 2021, is in doubt after Ports North updated its scheduling on Wednesday afternoon.

A scheduled published on Port North's website showed that on January 2, the 700-guest Seven Seas Explorer was set to be the first in Cairns on its journey from Cooktown to Airlie Beach before the month ends with the 2466-passenger Radiance of the Seas.

Starting in February was Amera (835), which was one of four on maiden journeys, travelling between Darwin and Townsville.

P&O’s Pacific Explorer moored at the Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal in February. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
P&O’s Pacific Explorer moored at the Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal in February. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

On April 28, the 144-capacity Silver Explorer would visit Cairns for 11 hours after arriving from Papua New Guinea.

Another vessel listed to make the trek from PNG is Coral Geographer, its maiden trip, on September 24 before returning two days later.

Pacific Adventure, scheduled to dock in Cairns in February and June on its two journeys from Airlie Beach to Sydney was set to join P&O Cruises' fleet in October 2020.

However, after being contacted, Ports North's website was updated to state that the cruise schedule was unavailable due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

"The schedule will be updated and promulgated once calls are confirmed by the operators and in accordance with local, state and national requirements," it reads.

Cairns Business Chamber president Sally Mlikota said the region would thrive with visitors when cruise ship are eventually permitted to return.

Pacific Explorer passengers Catherine, David, Lili and Celinda Lai stroll along the Cairns foreshore during their visit in February. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
Pacific Explorer passengers Catherine, David, Lili and Celinda Lai stroll along the Cairns foreshore during their visit in February. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

"In the current economic environment, where we are receiving alarming daily updates on active coronavirus cases in NSW and Victoria, it is hard to be upbeat and optimistic for our economic recovery in the short term," Ms Mlikota said.

"If 2021 delivers the cruise ships (in the initial schedules), we will have an injection of energy, optimism, and financially, which is what we so desperately need."

Australian Cruise Association CEO Jill Abel previously said potential new on-board health and hygiene measures and easing of travel restrictions would help people look for more cruise ship experiences.

There were 54 cruise ship visits scheduled for 2020.

Ports North did not comment before publication deadline. Two of the cruise ship operators have been contacted for comment.

Originally published as Doubts over plans to bring cruise ships back to Cairns


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