Aussie volunteer firefighters given cruise 'of a lifetime' as operators avoid coronavirus hit areas

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The cruise season has been extended as companies work to keep the ships out of coronavirus hot zones.

As cruise companies work to keep their ships out of coronavirus hot zones, some are getting creative by extending their cruise seasons in Australia and helping out where they can.

Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas is usually based out of China, but to avoid Covid-19 it’s been sent to Australia to reward around 11,000 volunteer firefighters who spent much of their summer fighting bushfires with a mini holiday.

Many of the firefighters spent many weeks away from their families while fighting the blazes that ravaged parts of the country throughout the summer.

In recognition of their hard work, the volunteer firefighters from all over the country have been gifted a four-night cruise with their families onboard the ship.

Half of Kathy Bairnes family are firefighters, for them, this is their Christmas.

“The kids are so happy cause now they’re spending time with us all,” said Ms Bairnes.

“As you can see when we go out firefighting sometimes we have to miss things with the kids – New Year’s Eve, Christmas Eve you know, things like that.”

Gavin Smith of Royal Caribbean said it’s a “holiday of a lifetime” for the families.

Carnival has also extended its Australian cruise ship season for an extra 60 days.

Queen Elizabeth and Sapphire Princess will be cruising to local Australian ports, instead of Asia. It will see thousands of passengers injecting an estimated half a million dollars into local communities.