Cruise holidays: Cunard selling tickets for Australia cruises – but what is travel advice?

The coronavirus pandemic spreading across the globe has led to most airlines and cruise companies temporarily halting travel. Cruise line workers and airline staff have been forced out of work as stringent measures become more prominent.

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Holidaymakers have also been forced to put their plans on hold as airlines and cruises make cancellations, offering credit for future trips.

But one cruise liner is still offering up holidays in the vague hope that people might purchase them.

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Cunard, one of the UK’s leading cruise lines, is offering a bargain £2,464 package which includes return flights from London to Sydney and a 27-night tour of Australia aboard the Queen Elizabeth ship.

The trip is set to depart from Heathrow Airport in London on April 10 where a flight will take passengers to Sydney.

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Cruises: Cunard selling tickets for Australia cruises – but what is travel advice? (Image: GETTY)Cruises: Cruise line workers and airline staff have been forced out of work (Image: GETTY)

The cruise will then officially begin 12 days later.

The brochure for the holiday reads: “Set foot on salt-white beaches, encounter native wildlife and explore world-famous wine regions.”

However, it is likely that passengers who book this cruise will be doing none of the above.

According to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), package holidays set to depart before April 17 are considered non-essential travel and so are contrary to their advice.

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The FCO says: “Only Australian citizens and returning permanent residents and their immediate family members are permitted to enter Australia until further notice.

“Similar restrictions apply to those seeking to transit through Australia.”

And anyone who does make it to Australia will need to be put in mandatory 14-day quarantine.

But why are Cunard still selling tickets despite the restrictions?

Cruises: The voyage would do a 27-night tour of Australia (Image: GETTY)

Travel writer and broadcaster Simon Calder said on BBC News: “Well, I can’t see anything actually wrong with what Cunard is doing.

“However, I have bought with departure on April 10, flying to Sydney and then boarding the Queen Elizabeth and sailing around Australia for 27 days – what could be nicer?

“Well, that’s irrelevant because there is absolutely no chance that the trip will be delivered.

“However, they are still selling it and the reason is – well it depends.”

He then continued to read out a statement from Cunard which said: “We are working through the current restrictions at ports of call around the world and also with guidelines from the relevant authorities regarding destinations and travel by air.

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“Clearly there will be changes to itineraries and we will be in touch very shortly with guests booked on this voyage.”

Mr Calder continued: “Some people I have been in touch with in Australia who are booked on it say that actually the cruise lines are not cancelling voyages until the very last moment because they are hoping people will accept future cruise credit which effectively keeps their money locked up with the cruise line rather than getting a full refund which is what I’m very much hoping to get in the next couple of weeks.”

So far, Cunard has so far announced a “pause” in voyages up to and including April 11.

Currently, 110 countries across the world have put restrictions on their citizens which have been labelled “lockdown”.

Cunard has been contacted for comment.