The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is in direct contact with 10 cruise ships with around 600 Australian passengers on board. This has reduced from 38 affected cruise ships with over 5,500 Australians just two weeks ago.
This is a result of co-operation with cruise lines and host countries. We appreciate this co-operative effort and acknowledge the patience of many passengers as these complex arrangements are determined.
Yesterday, about 800 Australians disembarked the Vasco Da Gama in Fremantle. In the days ahead, we are working to see more Australians disembark cruise ships at ports around the world.
In most cases, disembarkation cannot occur unless passengers have onward flight arrangements and are able to travel directly to the airport via a so-called sanitary corridor, put in place by host countries.
Therefore, arrangements of disembarkation and onward travel have required consistent and careful advocacy by the Australian Government, and co-operation with cruise line operators and host countries.
We welcome cruise operators’ constructive efforts to organise charter flights for many passengers.
Our consular officials in Canberra and diplomatic missions around the world have also regularly updated and advised affected Australians on cruise ships about the evolving situation, through email and various social media channels. We are providing consular assistance as necessary.
DFAT continues to work closely with cruise line operators and international authorities to resolve the remaining cases. We realise this is a stressful time for the affected Australians and their families.
In some cases, Australians disembarking cruise ships may be subject to local quarantine restrictions. As a result, it may be necessary for some to remain where they are overseas and, as far as practicable, remain safe and comfortable, including by following directions of local authorities.
Australia’s consular officers are doing all they can to support Australians overseas at this difficult time. The health and safety of Australians both at home and abroad is the Government’s top priority.