(3 a.m. AEST) -- Celebrity and Royal Caribbean have cancelled the remainder of their 2020 cruise season in Australia and New Zealand, affecting voyages scheduled to depart up to and including December 31, 2020.
The lucrative Christmas and New Year's sailings also occur at the height of the Australian summer, typically one of the most popular times of year for North Americans and Europeans to visit the Southern Hemisphere.
"The health and safety of our guests, crew, and the communities we visit is our top priority and we are working closely with local health and government authorities towards this shared goal," Royal Caribbean noted in a statement.
"Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises have extended our suspension of sailings, beyond that of the Australian government's, to include sailings departing Australia and New Zealand on or before 31 December, 2020. This is to allow guests booked on Christmas and New Year sailings to make alternative holiday arrangements."
Passengers booked on affected sailings will be contacted directly with options available to them. Passengers are eligible to choose either a 125 percent Future Cruise Credit, which will be applied automatically; or a full refund upon request. Passengers who booked through a travel agent should contact the agent to start the refund process.
The move follows the recent extension of the cruise ban in Australia into mid-December.
At this time, Royal Caribbean still plans to restart its other sailings as of November 1. The line had previously announced it was suspending all cruises up to and including October 31, 2020.