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One year extension for cruise rules

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An interesting article re cruising in Australian waters. Source is cruise weekly Thursday 14 February 2023.


One year extension for cruise rules International cruise ships have been granted 12 months of additional certainty about their operations in Australian waters, under a ruling issued yesterday by Minister for Transport & Infrastructure Catherine King. The cruise sector has been waiting for some months for a decision on the ministerial exemption for cruise shipping to the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Act 2012, which allows foreign-flagged cruise ships to carry passengers between Australian ports. Under yesterday’s update, the exemption will now apply from 01 Jan-31 Dec 2024, a one year period, replacing the current fiveyear exemption issued in 2018, which ends later this month. The ruling applies to vessels in excess of 5,000 gross tonnes which are capable of a speed of at least 15 knots and capable of carrying at least 100 passengers, “used wholly or primarily for the carriage of passengers between any ports in states or territories, except between Victoria and Tasmania”, the document states. “COVID-19 really affected tourism and the cruise industry, so the Australian Government is continuing to support cruise tourism by guaranteeing another year of the exemption,” King said. “The exemption reduces red tape and costs while supporting THRIVE 2030, our national strategy for the long-term sustainable growth of the visitor economy,” she added. King said the 12-month exemption will provide additional time to consult on potential amendments to the Act to aid in the revitalisation of the Australian maritime industry. Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) hailed the extension of the provisions to give clarity to cruise passengers, cruise lines, and the Australian tourism industry. However, Managing Director Joel Katz noted that with cruise operations planned and scheduled several years in advance, “CLIA and cruise lines look forward to further urgent consultation with the Australian Government to provide longerterm certainty for cruising and to support the THRIVE 2030 national strategy for the sustainable growth of the visitor economy”. Australian Cruise Association CEO Jill Abel said the extension of the exemption is welcome. “We look forward to the opportunity for further consultation over the next 12 months to ensure the Act delivers the maximum benefits to Australian ports and destinations,” she added. B

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So, a bit of light reading ... 

Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Act 2012 (legislation.gov.au)


Interpretation will be fun, and raises questions:

- A lap around Australia cruise - will it still be valid with/without an Asian or NZ port if you are returning to the port of origin (you aren't really being transported from A to B if you are returning to A)

- Is a cruise to nowhere still OK if you are returning to your port of origin. Also, a 3 or 4 night return cruise including Eden, Tangalooma, Airlie Beach. These transport you to an Australian port but bring you back as well. Hard to know if they consider it a loop or a return journey between Australian ports.

-  The ones that concern me, as they sit outside of the rules and spirit, are line voyages between Brisbane/Sydney, Melbourne/Sydney, Melbourne/Adelaide. We have a cruise booked for February from Brisbane to Sydney via Newcastle. That was a really late decision for that cruise to be exempted, and I'm glad it is. We have a similar one booked on Diamond Princess in Feb 2025, which would appear to be an illegal cruise if the exemptions aren't extended further.


Has this already been discussed at length here back in the days it was originally tabled in 2013? Any discussion/detail would still be relevant.


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In its simplest form, it is very different to the passenger act in the US. It looks like local legislation is about licencing, not about locally flagged vessels vs foreign flagged vessels. You would presume a seaworthy ship from a friendly country with a well treated crew would be afforded a licence to operate in Australian waters.


Ahh yes, licence also means there will be a fee attached, and that would be an extra operating cost for each ship - of which we will all end up paying for in the end. Cynical me - the states get their revenue from pilotage and passenger taxes, but our feds have been largely missing out on their slice, only getting GST revenue on domestic cruise fares. Surely that GST revenue is enough to prevent them from rocking the boat too much.


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Hopefully common sense will prevail. Surely the government would not want to enrage voters by only giving a couple of weeks notice of such a change.

I'm booked Melb/Perth in Jan 2025. If it was called off now it would be no big deal. If it was called off next Dec by which time I will have booked and paid for other travel arrangements based around the cruise I'd be less than amused. Now I've read all this I'll have a plan B.

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