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P&O Cruises will shut down in Australia

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A major cruise line, P&O Cruises Australia, will shut down, as the cruise industry struggles to recover following COVID-19 shutdowns.
P&O Cruises will shut down in Australia.

P&O Cruises, a major cruise line in Australia, will close down next year.

P&O Cruises in Australia is owned by Carnival Corporation, which is based in the U.S. It will now be absorbed into another company, Carnival Cruise Line, also owned by Carnival Corporation.

Carnival CEO Josh Weinstein cited “higher operating and regulatory costs” as reasons for shutting down the Australian line.

P&O Cruises

The U.S.-based Carnival Corporation operates seven cruise lines in Australia and New Zealand. Many of its cruises travel in the South Pacific region, to countries like Vanuatu and Fiji.

Carnival Corporation operates the Ruby Princess, where a COVID-19 outbreak occurred in the early stages of the pandemic, leading to the deaths of 28 people.

Closure

P&O Cruises Australia will shut down in March 2025.

The cruise line currently operates three ships — the Pacific Explorer, Encounter, and Adventure.

The Pacific Encounter and Adventure cruise ships will become part of the Carnival line.

However, the Pacific Explorer will “retire” from March 2025. A spokesperson for P&O confirmed it’s likely the cruise ship will be sold.

Weinstein said the decision was due to “the South Pacific’s small population and significantly higher operating and regulatory costs”.

While it’s not clear how many jobs will be lost, a spokesperson confirmed the restructure will mostly impact corporate P&O jobs rather than cruise staff.

Affected customers who have already booked cruises will be contacted in the coming days.

The company will merge into Carnival Cruise Line, meaning the P&O Australia brand won’t exist.

Decline

The number of cruise passengers travelling around Australia and the Pacific region has declined slightly compared to 2019.

Figures from global peak body the Cruise Lines International Association show 1.34 million people travelled on cruises in Australasia in 2023, down from 1.35 million people in 2019.

Cruises were effectively halted for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The industry took until 2023 to rebound to pre-COVID numbers.

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