Ever since cruise restarted, it was inevitable that COVID cases would occur on ships in Australia.
It’s happened everywhere else without serious incident. And yesterday, it was confirmed that 114 crew and four passengers aboard the Coral Princess, which has been sailing from Brisbane, had caught the virus.
The line was praised by Queensland’s Health Minister for its handling of the event. Yvette D’Ath said COVID-19 protocols were in place before the outbreak.
The ABC quoted her as saying some passengers are isolating at home or in other accommodation, while authorities are helping the company manage infected staff on board.
“This was always going to happen just like the rest of community,” Ms D’Ath said. “The virus is everywhere and there’s no escaping that, but I do want to acknowledge that the public health units, along with the cruise line, are doing all the right things and following the protocols in place.”
Princess Cruises offered refunds to those on the next 12-day cruise. Ms D’Ath said boarding the ship for her next journey was a matter or personal choice.
A spokesperson for the line said: “As you know, cruising has restarted in Australia and since May cruises have become a regular occurrence just as they have been for some time in other parts of the world.
“Just as Australians are doing in their daily lives, we are doing everything possible to enable our guests and crew to stay safe while we all live alongside covid.
“We have also been open and transparent with guests on the effectiveness of our protocols and this has led to some recent media coverage.
“We are adhering to comprehensive protocols that were agreed in conjunction with federal and state authorities and we are confident that they are working effectively. Our protocols include the regular testing of all crew who must also be fully vaccinated. Should any crew member test positive, they go into isolation on board and have no contact with guests.
“We recently advised embarking guests that in the most recent full screening of crew some had returned positive tests and that this was being managed effectively in line with our protocols.
“In answer to media inquiries at the weekend, we noted that fewer than 20 guests on the previous cruise had tested positive.
“The health and well-being of our guests and crew remain our main priority and the protocols being followed on board are working.
“As guests look forward to their cruise holidays, we want them to be confident in knowing that everything possible is being done to ensure they do so in an environment that is as safe as it can be.”
A Queensland health spokesman said: “Cruising plays a vital role in our state’s tourism industry and it is important we continue to adapt and learn to live with COVID-19.”
The Captain sent the below to passengers – most of whom seemed unperturbed.
One passenger posted: “On board.. all good. Everyone is masked up. Had lunch in Horizon Court. Room is spotless, waiting on our suitcases. We arrived at Terminal 12pm…onboard 1pm. Yes, lines were long but all kept moving…
“Walk up ramp to ship no problem. Medallion works. Looking forward to a good rest. Already chatted with some friendly, happy passengers.
“Seems many decided to go on this cruise. Cruise is Brisbane Eden Sydney Brisbane Airlie Beach Cairns Port Douglas Willis Island Brisbane
“Bring a hooded warm top for deck time late afternoon onwards.”