More than three years after the headline-making outbreak of Covid onboard one of the last sailings from Sydney before the cruise ban, officials and police have closed their investigations into the Ruby Princess.

The New South Wales State Coroner has told Cruise Passenger the families of the 28 people who died after the outbreak have been informed there was no need to hold an inquest.

In decided whether an inquest is needed, the Coroner considers evidence to determine the identity of the deceased and the date, place, manner and cause of death of the deceased.

There was no doubt about the identities and how those who died had passed away. And following a comprehensive police report that there was no evidence that would support a prosecution against any individual and a government inquiry, it was decided to dispense with the inquest.

The decision was made in June but was only revealed after Cruise Passenger inquired about progress.

A Special Commission of Inquiry report into the Ruby Princess has already been published and found no reason for further action. It was the Coroner’s view that an inquest would not provide any more additional evidence than what was already available.

The Coroner also noted that Carnival has responded and taken action as a result of the Special Commission of the Inquiry Report.

The news will be greeted with relief by those in the cruise industry, which is in its second year of recovery after the pandemic led to a two-year halt of sailings.

Cruise bookings are booming and the pandemic does not seem to have dented Australians’ love of holidays at sea.

Background to the Ruby Princess

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Ruby Princess in Port Kembla at the start of Covid.

In March 2020, the Ruby Princess returned early from a cruise to New Zealand due to a Covid outbreak onboard and docked in Sydney. After the ship docked, it’s almost 2700 passengers were allowed to leave the ship.

Over the following weeks, more than 663 passengers and crew tested positive for Covid, and 28 passengers died.

A special commission of inquiry was ordered and found New South Wales Health to have made mistakes in the management of the situation but did not apply blame to any individuals or recommend prosecution.

Carnival Australia were contacted and declined to comment.

While criminal prosecution will now no longer be pursued, there is an ongoing civil class-action case relating to the incident. The class action alleges that there was a breach of duty of care by Carnival Corporation (who own Princess Cruises), and also alleges breaches of Australia’s consumer law.

Furthermore, there is another group of passengers who were excluded from the class action due to booking the cruise under American conditions, which included a waiver from class actions.

This group of passengers has taken their fight to the High Court, arguing that under Australian Consumer Law, the waiving of the right to engage in class action is ‘unfair’ and should void the contract.