Island Escape Cruises shelves 2021 Kimberley program

Border situation leads to postponement of this year's Top End program

The open and shut domestic border situation in Australia has claimed yet another cruise line, with New Zealand’s Island Escape Cruises shelvings its Kimberley season for 2021.

Island Escape Cruises had planned to operate a series of sailings from Broome between July and September, which included the inaugural sailing for the Auckland-based cruise line’s new ship, Island Escape.

“Taken the situation in Australia at the moment we have found it impossible to operate,” Erik Helseth, CEO of Island Escape Cruises revealed to LATTE.

“The border closures makes it impossible for guests to travel and we are not able to move in crew,” he added.

Island Escape undergoing sea trials in June 2021

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In March this year, Island Escape Cruises revealed it had secured its Australian Permit to begin operation in the Kimberley using the Vard constructed 32-guest yacht. A launch cruise roundtrip from Broome was scheduled for 4 July. That mooted inaugural cruise was subsequently pushed back 3.5 weeks until the end of July due to issues in Vietnam – where the yacht was being constructed – with the commissioning of critical equipment.

Helseth said booked guests on the Kimberley deployment have been “very understanding of the situation and have decided to move their booking to the ’22 Kimberley season”.

“We are constantly monitoring the situation and adopting our plans accordingly,” he added.

The company’s 2022 Kimberley program is now on sale, comprising one 10-night voyage from Darwin to Broome on 4 May, followed by 11 departures on Island Escape’s 12-night itinerary roundtrip from Broome. One departure is already sold out and six have only limited availability remaining.

According to Island Escape Cruises’ website, the revised first sailing of Island Escape will be a “sold out” 10-night Great Barrier Reef cruise from Cairns to Brisbane, departing on 10 October 2021.

From December through to April 2022, the vessel will operate a collection of sailings in New Zealand around the Bay of Islands, Fiordland and Stewart Island. The South Pacific and Tahiti also remain listed on the cruise line’s website as “coming soon”.

Lead image: Island Escape’s top deck and jacuzzi rendering

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