One of the world’s largest cruise ships will arrive alongside Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal at 6.30 tomorrow morning, marking Royal Caribbean’s return to Australian waters after two years.

It also marks another milestone. The fact that it is predicted there will be little fuss shows how far we have come since the dark days of the pandemic, and how much we’ve become accustomed to living with the virus.

According to statements in New Zealand, her last port of call, she had a number of passengers and crew isolating on Wednesday.

The line told Cruise Passenger today: “Royal Caribbean can confirm that the incidence of Covid-19 amongst guests onboard Ovation of the Seas is significantly below the inaccurate numbers that have been reported in the media.

“We will comply with the mandatory health reporting required by NSW Health prior to arrival in Sydney tomorrow. Please know that all positive cases are required to isolate in their cabins, either remaining on their own or moving to a separate dedicated cabin that can be provided if guests prefer not to remain with their travel companion or family. Royal Caribbean follow our proven protocols that meet or exceed health and safety requirements in every region in which we operate.”

The NSW Government’s Cruising Rules website has listed Ovation of the Seas as Tier 2 (risk level 2 or 3) on the Covid-19 status. Under the classification, Tier 2 is Moderate Impact to Vessel. The classification says, “There are quite a few cases on board (30-99 positive cases per 1,000 people) and/or the vessel’s staffing or resources are impacted. However, it can safely maintain critical services.”

She has already completed a tour of New Zealand and there, too, most towns welcome her despite knowing she had cases of the virus on board.

Shop operators in Napier welcomed the arrival of Ovation of the Seas and said they were not worried about the spread of the disease. Sally Holyer, the co-owner of a gift shop in central Napier told RNZ the town was buzzing when the ship arrived. And sales in her shop were tracking above 2019 levels for the same ship at the same time of the year.

“It was fantastic to see the town so busy, people everywhere, the weather was stunning and the cash tills were rolling.”

She was not concerned about the spread of Covid this time around.

“Doesn’t worry me at all, we’re all jabbed, we’ve done everything that was asked and has got to live with it.”

In a statement, New Zealand’s National Public Health Service medical officer in Hawke’s Bay, Bridget Wilson said the authorities were told about the Covid-19 cases and were confident requirements were being followed earlier this week.

“Before any ship coming from overseas enters a New Zealand port, it has to be granted pratique [permission] by the local public health service. This requires ships’ captains to notify the public health service of any suspected infectious illness like Covid-19 on board, and show they are taking the necessary isolation and quarantine action.”

Ovation of the Seas was granted pratique on Sunday 23 October to dock and disembark passengers from the cruise liner in accordance with border control measures set out by the Ministry of Health.

“Having reviewed the isolation and testing protocols in place aboard Ovation of the Seas, we are confident that Covid-19 cases are being isolated appropriately and their contacts managed in line with our current domestic settings.”

And New Zealand’s Covid-19 response minister Ayesha Verral told RNZ that even though there was a risk of community transmission, she said the balance was right and Royal Caribbean has been handling the situation well.

“There is going to be a risk that we have to accept while we have our borders open – both air travel, cruise ships, the works.

“There is Covid transmission across the border and that is part of having our borders open, but we are not in the situation of high[er] risk across our border which we were in before because we are a highly vaccinated population.

“The process for the management of cruise ships has been worked over thoroughly between health officials and I think they’ve come up with a process that can be implemented and is alert to when there are high numbers of Covid cases on board.”

Royal Caribbean said the positive cases needed to isolate in their cabins for five days and if they still had symptoms on days six and seven.