Major Australian Airline Grounds Flights, Leaves Cruise Passengers Scrambling

October 31, 2011

(Update, 5:30 a.m. EDT) -- According to the BBC, the Australian government has ordered Qantas to resume flights. A statement from the airline expressed regret for travel disruptions and said that flight schedules were expected to be back to normal within 24 to 48 hours.

(11:05 a.m. EDT) -- Qantas, one of Australia's leading airlines, has grounded all flights indefinitely. The grounding, which is due to labor disputes, may affect cruisers traveling from North America to Australia and New Zealand to board cruises, or those returning home from their cruises.

Royal Caribbean, Princess and Holland America all have ships sailing in the region and are evaluating the situation. Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas is scheduled to sail from Perth, Australia, on Monday evening, meaning that many passengers are likely scrambling to make alternate travel arrangements.

A Royal Caribbean spokeswoman told us, "Royal Caribbean is closely monitoring the situation. We understand and appreciate that these are difficult circumstances for those guests who booked with Qantas and are working with airlines and hotels to learn what options are available for our guests. We encourage guests flying with Qantas to contact the airline to inquire on options."

Cruise Critic member grnyel05, whose parents are booked on Radiance of the Seas' next sailing and were scheduled to fly to Perth on a Qantas flight, says "Apparently it is virtually impossible to get through to an agent from Qantas, though they are putting them up at a hotel in Sydney right now." According to a later post, her parents will have to miss about five days of their cruise, and catch up with the ship later in the week.

Holland America's Volendam is currently sailing a 14-night cruise that returns to Auckland on November 7, and a HAL representative has reported that no passengers are impacted at this time. Princess' Sun Princess and Dawn Princess are both currently sailing New Zealand cruises. The line is currently deciding on a course of action.

We'll be sure to keep you posted on any additional updates.

--by Shayne Rodriguez Thompson, Editorial Assistant