Carnival Cruise Line brings back COVID-19 protocols in Australia

An aerial image of Carnival Cruise Line cruise ship Carnival Spirit at the Overseas Passenger Terminal in Circular Quay on March (Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images)

Carnival Corporation is bringing back COVID-19 protocols, such as masks, for cruises operating in Australia after hundreds of passengers were recently infected with the virus. 

The company updated its guidance and is now requiring masks for passengers along with the completion of a health questionnaire before sailing. Vaccines are also required for many crew and passengers with limited exceptions. 

"In line with government protocols, until further notice, we will operate vaccinated cruises with our enhanced protocols," the company said on its website

The BBC recently reported that 800 passengers were infected with COVID-19 on the Majestic Princess after it arrived at Circular Quay, having sailed from New Zealand.

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Marguerite Fitzgerald, the president of the cruise operator Carnival Australia, told the outlet many cases were detected about halfway through the 12-day voyage. She said many of the infected passengers had mild or no symptoms. 

According to the Australian government, COVID-19 cases are starting to slowly rise but fall way short of the surge earlier in the year. 

Cruises have taken a hard hit since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Cruise-ship operators have complained since the start of the pandemic that their industry has been singled out for a shutdown and then tighter COVID-19 restrictions than others, including airlines.

In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put a halt to all cruises for what turned out to be 15 months. In June 2021, it allowed ships to resume sailing under new strict new conditions. In August, as the delta variant surged, the agency warned people who are at risk of severe illness despite being vaccinated not to go on cruises.

In March 2022, federal health officials dropped the warning they have attached to cruising since the beginning of the pandemic, leaving it up to vacationers to decide whether they feel safe getting on a ship.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.