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Cruise Liners Suspend Operations In Australia In Bid To Limit Coronavirus Spread

Several cruise liners have paused operations in Australia for at least 30 days as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Australia's chief medical officer Professor Brendan Murphy told reporters on Saturday that he expected the cruise ship industry to go into some "significant abeyance" as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Carnival Cruises has become the latest cruise ship company to announce it was pausing operations across its fleet of ships based in Australia from March 15, with service due to resume on April 13.

Image: Getty

The company said both of its ships which are currently at sea will continue their voyages and return to Sydney as scheduled.

"While Carnival has not had a diagnosed case linked to our operation we realise this situation is bigger than the cruise industry," a spokesman said in a statement on Saturday afternoon.

"We will continue to do our part to support public officials to manage and contain this unprecedented public health challenge."

P&O Cruises Australia earlier on Saturday announced it would pause its operations for 30 days following the federal government's advice that non-essential mass gatherings of 500 people or more should not be held from Monday.

The suspension is in effect from Saturday until April 12.

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The company's Pacific Explorer cruise ship had its scheduled stop in Eden in southern NSW cancelled and the Pacific Dawn cruise from Brisbane on Saturday has also been cancelled.

The Pacific Aria, which is currently en route to Tasmania, will now return to Adelaide on Monday, P&O Cruises Australia said in a statement.

"Cancelling or reducing the length of a cruise is the last thing we would ever want to do but these are extraordinary times and we have no hesitation in putting the health and well-being of our guests, crew and the wider community first," P&O Cruises Australia president Sture Myrmell said.

Norwegian Cruise Line has suspended all its cruises worldwide between March 13 and April 11 with guests on current voyages to be disembarked "as soon as possible", the company said in a statement on Sunday.

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Princess Cruises has also paused its global operations but for a longer period - 60 days from March 12 to May 10.

In the United States, Royal Caribbean International has suspended its cruises into and out of US ports until April 11.

Australia clocked up more than 200 cases of COVID-19 on Saturday. There are some 140,000 cases worldwide.