Sepctrum of the Seas in Sydney
Spectrum of the Seas in Sydney

The Spectrum of the Seas quietly arrived in Sydney Wednesday night to prepare for her first free cruise for volunteer bush fire fighters and our Australian heroes can’t wait to get on.

The ship pulled up at Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal on Wednesday night to be loaded up with food, drinks and other supplies for her first four-night sailing this Saturday, followed by a second sailing on 7 March.

Royal Caribbean says that they are still working out the details for the final guest list of up to 7000 people who will board the ship across the two sailings. The line confirmed that volunteer fire fighters and their families from around the country are coming onboard.

Cruise Passenger spoke to a few of our Australian heroes.

Daniel Gordon a 21-year-old volunteer firefighter at NSW Rural Fire Service will board the ship with his parents this Saturday on his first Royal Caribbean cruise.

The official invite came as a complete surprise, says Mr Gordon. And he is already looking forward to relaxing on board and going for a few rounds of laser tag.

“I made sure not to get my hopes up in case I didn’t get it,” says Mr Gordon.

He joined the RFS in Upper Lachlan Shire in the Southern Tablelands of NSW four years ago, following in his father’s footsteps.

Daniel Gordon and family
Daniel Gordon and his parents will board Spectrum this weekend. His sister is on the right.

“My father is also a volunteer so I went through him to join because I want to help my community. He has been a volunteer at the RFS for as long as we’ve been here, about 20 years,” says Mr Gordon.

“Upper Lachlan Shire was not as badly hit by the fires as some other areas, we were quite fortunate here.”

The young volunteer fire fighter who enjoys the relaxed nature of cruise has done two other cruises with Carnival and Princess.

“I love the fact that with cruising unlike a lot of other types of holiday once you get onboard everything is taken care of and you don’t need to lift a finger,” says Mr Gordon.

Travis Ledger Captain of Killawarra Country Fire Authority brigade in Victoria will be making a six and a half hour drive up to Sydney to get on board with his two young kids this Saturday.

“I saw the offer on Royal Caribbean’s Facebook and was sceptical at first. I reckon it would be a bit hard to get a spot with so many volunteers. I was very surprised when the offer came in,” says Mr Ledger.

He has been a volunteer at the Country Fire Authority for 10 years and joined after the 2009 Black Saturday fires in Victoria.

“I saw what the fires did and how the firefighters fought to protect the land and farms and I’ve always wanted to give back, pay that back,” says Mr Ledger.

And this time, the Killawarra brigade along with others from around the Wangaratta area battled the Oven’s Complex fires which is 30 minutes away and the severe Upper Murray Complex fires two hours away, over many days.

The Killawarra fire truck at the Upper Murray Complex

This will be the first cruise for his two young kids and the first cruise in 20 years for 41-year-old Mr Ledger who works at a horse property as his day job.

The last cruise he went on was P&O’s Pacific Sky back in his early 20s. But his family has been thinking of going on a cruise and this opportunity was perfect for them to try it out.

“My family has been thinking of booking a cruise, and this opportunity came just at the right time. We are going to see how much the kids enjoy this one and maybe book a family cruise for next time,” says Mr Ledger.

“It will be great if my family can return the business to Royal Caribbean. This was such a great initiative.”

Travis Ledger and his kids Tom and Ivy
Travis Ledger and his kids Tom and Ivy

Unfortunately, his wife Brooke Ledger who runs a wedding furniture hire business could not get away from work at short notice during peak wedding season, so she is not joining them on the cruise. But Mr Ledger and his kids are looking forward to it.

“I’m looking forward to get away for a bit, get some time off work and spend time with the kids. Tom who is nine-years-old and Ivy who is six, they are both so excited and they have been on YouTube checking out videos of the ship and planning what they are going to do on board,” says Mr Ledger.

“They are looking forward to the laser tag, bumper cars and the iFly. I’m interested to try out the iFly myself as well.”

Mr Ledger is also ready to trust Royal Caribbean with his family holiday despite the ongoing coronavirus situation.

“I have no concerns about the coronavirus. I’m confident that Royal Caribbean and the border authorities have the safety of passengers under control,” says Mr Ledger.

The Spectrum of the Seas sailed to Australia via Manila. The line said the ship and crew have not been in China for more than two weeks, exceeding the public health guidelines.

The line will also be implementing precautionary health measures and medical screening protocols for guests and crew for both sailings.

See what Royal Caribbean is doing below.

What precautionary health measures and medical resources do you have onboard your ships to care for passengers.

  • Our number one priority is ensuring the health and welfare of our guests and crew while delivering amazing holidays.
  • We are fully focused on protecting the health and safety of our guests and crew and have rigorous medical protocols in place, which include highly-trained medical professionals to consult and treat our guests and crew, premier medical facilities that are well-stocked with protective equipment and medications, stringent procedures to isolate unwell individuals from the general ship population, air filtration systems, and intensified ship cleaning and shipboard sanitisation procedures. We have also worked closely with medical suppliers to ensure protective masks are available onboard should any of our guests require one.

What are your medical screening protocols for guests and crew?

  • We continue to maintain strict health screening protocols to protect our guests including denial of boarding to any guest who in the previous 15 days travelled through China or came into contact with anyone who travelled through China in the past 15 days.
  • Mandatory specialised health screenings will be performed on individuals who are uncertain about contact with individuals who have transited China in the past 15 days, who exhibit flu-like symptoms, or present with fever or low blood oximetry.