Advice for the cruise industry
The following advice provides COVID-19 risk mitigation measures specific to NSW for all cruise vessels intending to enter or leave a NSW port.
From 21 June 2022 international travellers are no longer required take a COVID-19 test upon arrival in NSW.
All people over the age of 12 must wear a mask while in a cruise terminal and on public transport.
Wearing a face mask is still mandatory in some settings.
All domestic and international cruise vessels operating in NSW waters should comply with the NSW Government approved Eastern Seaboard Cruise Protocols (PDF, 201.25 KB) and the CDNA National Guidelines for Cruising in Australia.
This should be read in conjunction with the NSW Government approved Eastern Seaboard Cruise Protocols (PDF, 201.25 KB) and the CDNA National Guidelines for Cruising in Australia.
All domestic and international cruise vessels travelling to a NSW port are required to report COVID-19 cases and status updates to NSW Health.
All vessels should complete theCruise vessel reporting template for acute respiratory and gastrointestinal infection (XLSX, 116.56 KB)
at the following times:
1. In the 24 hours prior to arrival
- Vessels arriving in NSW from an international port must also complete the required Australian Government documentation within the indicated timeframes.
2. On the identification of a person(s) who has tested positive to COVID-19 on board the vessel:
- Thereafter, the Cruise vessel reporting template for acute respiratory and gastrointestinal infection (XLSX, 116.56 KB) should be completed in line with Table 1.
3. On transition to another category in Table 1.
- The Cruise vessel reporting template for acute respiratory and gastrointestinal infection (XLSX, 116.56 KB) should be sent to MOH-HPMaritimeresponse@health.nsw.gov.au in the timeframes indicated in Table 1.
After receipt of the Cruise vessel reporting template for acute respiratory and gastrointestinal infection (XLSX, 116.56 KB), the relevant jurisdictional health authority will make contact with the shipping agent, master of the vessel, or ship’s doctor as appropriate. This may include a request for additional information and further assessment to determine if additional risk mitigation measures are required on board.
Table 1 – Critical outbreak thresholds for COVID-19 reporting purposes
Table 1 is based on the outbreak thresholds table from the CDNA National Guidelines for Cruising in Australia.
Use highest criteria to determine risk level.*
|Risk level||Criteria - Total positive||Criteria - Unrelated clusters||Criteria -Operational compromise||Reporting|
|0||Nil||If there are no cases on board:
There may be minor impact to staffing and/or resources
No impact to critical services (inc. healthcare, cleaning, food and beverage)
(or min. 20 persons for vessels <150)
|3 to 4||
Moderate impact to staffing and/or resources
Major impact to staffing and/or resource shortages
Unable to maintain critical services and/or imminent cessation of critical services
All reporting times are in Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST).
* These reporting requirements are in addition to mandatory reporting through the Biosecurity Act 2015 which requires reporting 12-96 hours prior to arrival of specified illness experienced by passengers or crew on an international vessel through the PAR and Human Health Reports.
Testing before disembarkation
Vessels that have travelled to an international port:
All passengers and crew on board vessels that have travelled to an international port during their voyage are recommended to follow the advice in the COVID-19 information for international arrivals.
This includes passengers and crew who enter Australia in another state or territory and then travel to NSW within the first 14 days.
All vessels disembarking into a port outside of metropolitan Sydney:
It is strongly recommended that operators have robust systems in place to manage the risk of COVID-19 transmission to regional, rural and remote communities in NSW.
Vessels entering ports outside of metropolitan Sydney should consider the role of altered shore activities and pre-disembarkation testing for reducing this risk, particularly when there are increasing or high levels of infection on board (for example, amber or red categories).
More restrictive approaches to community interaction (e.g. ensuring passengers and crew only participate in activities where there is minimal interaction with the general community) in addition to pre-disembarkation testing (for example self-administered rapid antigen test) to further mitigate risk to local community is strongly recommended.
Such measures are in addition to exclusion of cases, high risk contacts and symptomatic persons from disembarking for shore activities.
All vessels disembarking into a metropolitan Sydney port:
It is strongly recommended that all crew and passengers on vessels with sustained or rapidly increasing transmission (e.g. amber and red categories) are tested for COVID-19 prior to disembarkation.
Crew surveillance screening
Rapid antigen tests are an important risk mitigant in high-risk settings and should be used to help screen for COVID-19, particularly for settings where there is demonstrated or suspected transmission of COVID-19.
An appropriate frequency of testing is an important strategy in managing this risk.
At all times crew should monitor carefully for symptoms of COVID-19.
If symptoms occur, they should immediately have a COVID-19 PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result. If the PCR test result is negative, it is recommended that the crew member is tested for influenza.
Quarantine and testing contacts at high risk of infection on board the vessel
High risk contacts, including those who share a cabin with a COVID-19 case, and those who have had extended or other high-risk contact (for example, extended period in closed environment without use of mask), should quarantine for a minimum of 7 days, in line with the Eastern Seaboard Cruise Protocols (PDF, 201.25 KB) and CDNA National Guidelines for Cruising in Australia. It is preferred that testing prior to release from quarantine (i.e. on Day 6 or 7) is by PCR.
Testing for influenza
All crew and passengers should monitor carefully for symptoms of COVID-19 throughout their cruise.
If their PCR test result is negative, it is recommended that they are also tested for influenza.
Pre-embarkation assessment of passengers and crew
Pre-embarkation screening of passengers and crew should exclude people who have been identified as a household or other high risk contact in the community.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission to other passengers and crew, NSW Health recommends that people who have been identified as a household or other high risk contact during the 7-day period prior to commencement of journey should not board the vessel.
Entering a NSW port outside of metropolitan Sydney
All cruise vessels should take reasonable steps to protect NSW communities at high risk of COVID-19.
All cruise vessels should have robust COVID-19 Safety Plans in place that take into consideration the unique needs of local communities into which shore excursions and disembarkation is planned. Consultation with the local community is strongly recommended.
The Chief Health Officer may recommend against a visit to a port outside of metropolitan Sydney.
All vessels should take additional precautions to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 into regional and other high-risk communities.
This may include:
- Considering scheduling rural and regional port visits early in the vessel’s travel itinerary.
- Conducting COVID-19 testing and health screening prior to disembarkation (see COVID-19 testing for further information.)
- Changing itineraries to reduce community interaction (e.g. guided tours) when there are concerning levels of circulating infection on the vessel (for example, amber and red categories).
- Ensuring there are robust COVID-19 Safety Plans in place to mitigate transmission risk for all activities during the excursion.
COVID-19 policies and procedures
The cruise vessel’s COVID-19 Safety Policies and Procedures must address all elements of the passenger and crew experience.
This should include, but is not limited to:
- COVID-19 testing and surveillance for passengers and crew.
- Communication with passengers regarding COVID-19 risks, mitigation measures, and outbreak management.
- Management of embarkation, disembarkation and shore excursions.
- Management of cases in crew and passengers while on board the vessel, and after disembarkation.
- Reporting and notification processes for positive COVID-19 test results.
- Clinical assessment, support and evacuation procedures for passengers and crew with COVID-19.
- Isolation capacity and processes (on board and on shore) for passengers and crew with COVID-19 or who are a household or other high risk contact of a person with COVID-19.
- Environmental measures such as cleaning, ventilation and capacity limitations for all communal areas including dining areas, communal recreation, casinos, smoking areas, and theatres.