(3:47 a.m. AEST) -- Most major cruise lines, including Carnival, P&O Australia, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean Group, have elected to further delay any resumption of cruise service throughout Australia and New Zealand, pushing sailings well into the spring and summer months.
The move comes as other lines curtail their planned Australia cruise seasons into 2021, with Cunard Line electing to pull its 2,081-passenger Queen Elizabeth from the region entirely next year.
The cancellations come at a time when the large-ship cruise season is typically ramping up in Australia and New Zealand, spurred on by travellers from North America and Europe looking to escape their winter months.
However, their planned restart dates will have to be extended still further following today's extension of the ban on cruise ships entering Australian waters until December 17.
Carnival Corporation announced it would be extending its suspension of sailings in Australia aboard Carnival Spirit and Carnival Splendor through at least December 2, 2020. Carnival had previously scrapped cruises from Australian ports through the end of October.
Carnival stated the reason for the extension in their operational pause was due to continuing restrictions on travel throughout Australia.
Also extending it voluntary sailing suspension through December 2 is P&O Australia. In a statement issued to media, P&O president Sture Myrmell said that extending the pause to the start of the summer months was aimed at providing passengers with an opportunity to better plan ahead.
"It is clear that society is not yet ready to return to sailing and we will continue to liaise with governments and public health experts as all align on how people should gather and holiday," said Myrmell. "Like our loyal guests, we remain hopeful that the start of summer will bring new opportunities for the entire travel and tourism industry, which contributes so much to many regional economies around Australia."
Further, P&O Australia is allowing passengers to cancel their bookings up to 48 hours prior to departure to receive a future cruise credit for the value of the paid fare. This applies to all sailings up to January 31, 2021.
Princess Cruises elected to cancel its sailings throughout Australia and New Zealand through December 12, 2020. The line cited the continued progression of COVID-19 and " related decisions of various governments, health authorities, and airlines regarding travel restrictions" as reasons for the further cancellations.
Earlier this month, Princess Cruises was largely exonerated by a report that found "serious mistakes" were made by NSW Health in clearing Ruby Princess passengers to disembark from its final voyage in March upon arrival back in Sydney.
Princess Cruises had faced significant backlash in media reports locally over the COVID-19 positive cases aboard the vessel.
Royal Caribbean Group also joined in further postponing sailings through Australia, though its suspensions only stretch into spring.
Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Azamara will all suspend operations in Australia and New Zealand through October 31, 2020. This news does not affect Royal Caribbean Group's luxury arm, Silversea Cruises, which has already suspended the majority of its global operations into early November.