Is Tasmania about to welcome back cruise ships?

AAP FactCheck October 12, 2020

The Statement

A social media post claims passenger cruise ships are booked to return to Tasmania as early as December 2020.

The Facebook post features a schedule of arrivals, beginning with the Coral Adventurer and Coral Discoverer at the end of the year.

The caption states: “Exclusive: Cruise ships are booked to visit Tasmania over the next twelve months starting the 8th of December where the Coral Discoverer is scheduled for ten visits between December and March.”

It also quotes TasPorts saying, “The COVID-19 situation continues to develop on a global level and the subsequent impact on the 2020-2021 cruise ship season and beyond is uncertain at this point. It is anticipated that bookings will change closer to the commencement of the 2020-2021 season”.

At the time of writing, the post had been shared more than 110 times, attracting more than 400 reactions and 350 comments.

A Facebook post
 The Facebook post shows cruise ship arrivals in Tasmania from December. 

The Analysis

While the cruise ship arrivals included in the Facebook post were previously scheduled for Tasmanian ports, updated schedules show none of the passenger vessels are due to arrive until October 2021.

International cruise ships have been banned from arriving in Australia, except in cases of emergency, since the federal government declared a biosecurity emergency on March 18 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In September, the ban and related measures under the Biosecurity Act were extended until December 17. Smaller vessels – those capable of carrying fewer than 100 passengers – and domestic cruises are still permitted to dock during the ban.

The cruise ship schedule in the post shows two expected arrivals in Hobart this year: the Coral Adventurer on December 8 and the Coral Discoverer on December 31.

Both are small vessels, carrying 120 passengers and 72 passengers respectively, that operate mainly in Australian waters, according to the Coral Expeditions website.

The schedule also includes larger cruise ships, such as the 2,670-guest Sapphire Princess. None of these are listed to arrive until October 2021.

However, a current TasPorts shipping schedule, retrieved by AAP FactCheck on October 9, shows no cruise ships of any sizes scheduled to arrive in Tasmania until October 2021 at Hobart and November 2021 at Burnie.

An archived version of TasPorts’ Hobart shipping schedule from August 5, 2020, shows a schedule generally consistent with the dates in the Facebook post. It is unclear when the schedule was updated.

A spokeswoman for TasPorts, the state body responsible for the management and maintenance of 11 Tasmanian ports, told AAP FactCheck in an email that forward shipping schedules were “subject to continual change” during the pandemic.

“There remains a high level of uncertainty regarding the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the 2020-2021 domestic cruise ship season,” she said.

“Cruise lines are providing rolling updates on cancellations of calls in line with ongoing developments associated with COVID-19. Cruise ship visits to Tasmania will not resume until government directions permit.”

Border restrictions remain in place in Tasmania, with anyone except for “essential travellers” such as healthcare workers arriving from interstate required to quarantine for 14 days. The state plans to ease the rules on October 26.

Cruise ship
 International cruise ships have been banned from Australian ports since March. 

The Verdict

No cruise ships are due to arrive in Tasmania until October 2021, based on current listings, although TasPorts says schedules are subject to constant change. The schedule included in the post contains outdated information that has since been revised.

Partly False – Content that has some factual inaccuracies.

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