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Despite a fall in COVID-19 cases that has Aussies eager to start exploring, people might have to wait before they start cruising again.

The ban on cruise ships was implemented last year by the Australian government and was extended until March 17th, but it doesn’t mean the ban will lift on this date.

Most cruise ships are also currently stationed in Asia and Europe and will have to undergo quarantine before being ready for domestic passengers.

Some companies that have smaller boats with a capacity of 100 to 200 passengers are offering tours that begin in late March.

This includes APT, Ponant and Silversea.

P&O Australia is also taking a leap of faith despite being at the mercy of the government ban and has cruise dates set from Sydney on April 30th.

Princess Cruises is recommencing Australian cruises in October 2021, whereas Norwegian Cruise Line has no Australian departures at all until December 2021.

Australia’s tourism minister Dan Tehan recognised the hard work the cruising industry has put in to make things safer for their passengers on the breakfast show Today.

He was asked about the number of special deals available for cruising.

There are welcome signs, and yes, we’re seeing rebounding when it comes to cruising, and also domestic tourism.”

Host Stan Stefanovic asked the minister: “In relation to cruising, the Ruby Princess saga led to a major heartbreak here… should Aussies feel safe taking up these offers now?”

The minister replied: “The cruise industry has done a lot of work to make sure that cruising now is COVID safe. They’ve put protocols in place, so people should be confident to be able to go and book cruises.

“They also should be confident to be able to book, you know, wonderful vacations right across this nation, because we’ve got so many wonderful places to see – whether you’re doing it as part of a cruise around our coastline, or going to visit just the wonderful places right across the nation.”

Joel Katz, managing director for Australasia at the Cruise Lines International Association has said that smaller domestic fleets might pave the way until the ban is lifted.

“Cruising can progress a responsible restart domestically within Australia, using ships and crew that have gone through all required quarantine procedures,” he said to Travel Weekly.

“Ships and crew would then remain within the Australian safe zone or bubble, offering local cruising to locals only, within Australia, until international borders reopen.”

“Cruising delivers enormous financial benefit to communities around Australia and supports around 18,000 jobs across the country,” Katz said.

“We look forward to working with the government to plan a careful revival of the country’s $5-billion-a-year cruise industry.”

This article originally appeared on Over60.

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