The cruise community has been celebrating the successful return of ships and itineraries – not so some media outlets, which have painted a completely different picture of what is really going on aboard our Wave Season ships.

Headlines have been dominated by sensationalised reports of disease-ridden ships and nightmare quarantine conditions:  “quarantine dungeons” and ships “plagued with COVID” have featured in the headlines. It’s as if there is a parallel universe.

Channel Nine has featured several reports, including Under Cover ‘The Hidden Dangers of Cruising” with Liz Hayes and Current Affair. Both have particularly angered industry heavyweights.

CLIA Managing Director Australasia Joel Katz says despite what media coverage might say, cruise lines have been dealing well with COVID concerns.

“With more ships returning to Australia for the summer season, we are again seeing media attention on cruising.

“Despite the headlines in some news outlets, our most important message still holds true – no setting is immune to Covid-19, but we have processes in place for dealing responsibly with the virus.”

Mr Katz emphasises that cruise COVID protocols are the most thorough of any in tourism.

“The testing and vaccination requirements agreed with state health authorities – together with onboard measures, enhanced medical facilities and detailed response plans – are still the most extensive to be found anywhere in tourism and go much further than those you will find in most settings on land.

“As we’ve seen all over the world, cruise line health protocols have shown to be effective in mitigating the risks of Covid-19 and have allowed cruise lines and health authorities to respond swiftly when cases arise.”

While word from the media hasn’t always been kind, Mr Katz says it’s reassuring that cruisers themselves are still reporting successful holidays.

“It has been great to hear the positive comments from so many cruise passengers sailing in Australia, and it’s a pleasure to know they are still able to have an incredible cruise experience and enjoy their holidays with confidence.”

Even a cruiser who spoke to A Current Affair for a story about being on a “plague cruise” had nothing but positive things to say.

Mark Weston, coming to the end of an 18-day cruise on Quantum of the Seas told A Current Affair: “You can get it anywhere and I’d much rather be on a ship.

While it was reported that up to 400 passengers on the ship may have had COVID, Mr Weston said not to read too much into these reports.

“I was speaking to guest services because a lot of people are throwing numbers around. At the peak it was about 100 cases.

“Which is probably quite a lot but overall with 4400 people on board, 100 cases, that’s not very much.”

Mr Weston said while some people were forced to quarantine, he didn’t fault the cruise industry or cruise line for that.

“This could have been a holiday of a lifetime for them and they’d been isolated in the cabin and missed the best part of their holiday.

“But again, that’s not a fault of the cruise line or the cruise industry, it’s just COVID which is around and not going anywhere.”

As far as those quarantined go, reports still remain positive. Cruiser Andrew Logan caught COVID on Ovation of the Seas and was forced to isolate himself, he wrote on Port Planner: “While it was not the way I was hoping to spend a chunk of the cruise, there was nothing more Royal Caribbean could have done to handle it better. They really did make it so the guest could make the best out of a bad situation.

“They constantly checked in to make sure we were OK, and nothing at all was a hassle for them. If this is the price for cruising during a pandemic, the price isn’t too bad.”

Mr. Logan also reported that room service meals were delivered at no extra charge, he received a sheet with three QR codes to order meals from, he had complimentary Surf Vroom internet, free phone calls, and his cruise fare from the days he was forced to isolate is being refunded to him.

Another cruiser Jody Taylor was onboard Quantum of the Seas when it was reported as a “doomed ship”, she wrote on a cruising Facebook group that her experience was anything but.

“RCI is cleaning all areas and keeping the ship as safe as they can. We are all having a wonderful time.

“Just washy washy and sanitise and look after yourself or don’t cruise. Pick it up in a shopping centre.”
Another cruiser, Kim Quinn was sailing on Ovation of the Seas to Australia when reports rolled in of out-of-control COVID infections, she wrote on Facebook that she had full trust in Royal Caribbean and their procedures.
“We’re currently sailing on Ovation to Sydney and are on day 29 from Vancouver. Yes there is Covid but have no idea how many nor do I want to know as RC have plans in place and the ship is always being cleaned.
“My husband and I are well and keep washing our hands and sanitising. We have another 13 nights left on our current cruise and look forward to the seven booked in the next year. Shame on the media for causing people needless stress on board or at home!”
Channel Nine was contacted by Cruise Passenger for a comment but had not replied at the time of publication.

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