Four cruise ships diverted to Fremantle as virus sends industry into disarray

Four cruise ships diverted to Fremantle as virus sends industry into disarray

On Tuesday Diamond Princess’ operator, Princess Cruises announced its sister ship, Sapphire Princess, would be redeployed from Asia to Australia from May.

This new itinerary will see the ship berthed at Fremantle 12 times throughout winter, effectively extending WA’s cruise ship season right throughout 2020 and potentially bringing thousands of tourists to the port town.

It will also make 19 maiden calls along WA’s coast including Geraldton and Exmouth.

Tourism operators and the WA government are bracing for the impact of COVID-19, which has shut down air travel from China and caused the cancellation of a trial Shanghai to Perth flight.

Princess Cruises Senior Vice President Asia Pacific Stuart Allison said the cruise line’s redeployment of Sapphire Princess would be a boost to domestic and regional tourism.

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“With the ongoing uncertainty of travel restrictions and port closures in Asia impacting our cruise operations in the region, we hope that this extended deployment in Australia will benefit local tourism, particularly in regional areas with 102 visits to regional ports around the country during her year-long deployment,” he said.

Fremantle Ports’ cruise ship schedule reveals three more ships that will berth in Fremantle in March thanks to diversions from Asia, including the Arcadia, Explorer Dream and Costa Deliziosa.

A spokesman said Fremantle Ports welcomed the addition of any cruises to its calendar and said the port had the ability to handle the additional ships.

Australian Hotels Association WA chief executive Bradley Woods said tourists from the diverted cruise ships would be a boost to the local tourism economy.

“Cruise ship visitors give Perth an opportunity to showcase our state and promote the destination for future longer visits,” he said.

“Hopefully cruise ships visiting WA ports will primarily attract international visitors and spend money onshore with accommodation and hospitality venues.”

Hamish Hastie is WAtoday’s business reporter.

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