Luxury liner eyes jabbed-up Australians

A luxury cruise liner is taking a punt on Australians getting vaccinated by summer and officials allowing their ships to set sail.

Royal Caribbean International has announced a new season of domestic sailings.

Despite foreign-flagged cruise ships being banned from entering Australian shores, the liner expects one of its vessels to set sail from Sydney between December and March.

The company is offering trips to hotspots including Hobart, Kangaroo Island, Airlie Beach and Port Douglas.

Foreign-flagged ships have been banned from entering Australian waters since March 2020 and the restriction is not due to lift until September.

There are no guarantees the ban will be lifted at that time.

Industry spokesman Joel Katz said the Australian economy has lost more than $6 billion since cruising was suspended, jeopardising more than 18,000 local jobs.

He is concerned by Australia’s lack of progress on cruise resumptions.

“The cruise industry has done an enormous amount of work to implement extensive new health protocols globally, but Australia is now the only major cruise destination in the world where there is no progress towards their adoption,” Mr Katz said.

Last year, an inquiry found New South Wales health authorities made serious mistakes in their handling of the Ruby Princess, after the ship was linked to 663 Covid-19 infections and 28 deaths.

Despite concerns of a coronavirus outbreak on board, thousands of passengers were allowed to disembark and continue their travel.

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