This most major outbreak of COVID-19 in Australia has hit the Grand Princess, a cruise ship operated by Princess Cruises. Some media sources stated that Newcastle officials turned away the 107,500-ton cruise liner, but Princess said it opted to bypass the port after discussing it with local health officials.
The fourth wave of COVID-19 is spreading across Australia, and Princess Cruises was eager to point out that, like the rest of the tourist industry, it is attempting to restrict the spread of the virus. Princess Cruises sent a statement to the Australian media saying, “With Victoria registering 22,000 instances in the previous week, we would like to use this opportunity to emphasise every precaution is taken on board to keep our passengers, staff, and wider communities we visit safely.”
A few months ago, cruises resumed in Australia, but officials still closely monitor everything. In accordance with these regulations, 95% of cruise ship passengers must be up-to-date with their vaccinations, and the other 5% must also be tested.
The cruise lines are responsible for working with port-based public health departments and reporting any virus spread. In addition, as the COVID outbreak in Australia has worsened in recent weeks, Carnival Corporation has reinstated a masking requirement for all guests and personnel on board, including those sailing with Princess Cruises.
Except while eating or drinking, masks are necessary when entering or disembarking, on buses and tenders, and outside cabins.
Masks are also required outdoors when passengers cannot social distance themselves from others.
Outside, when passengers cannot maintain social distancing, they must also wear masks.
Local media reported that health officials said there was a “high” number of cases on board, while a Princess spokesperson said the ship arrived in Newcastle with a “slightly high” number of cases.
In a prepared statement, a Princess spokesperson explained that the decision to skip the final port of call “was made in consultation with NSW Health as the Newcastle and greater Hunter Valley region is managing the current rise in community transmissions, including the demand on its local hospitals and healthcare services.”
According to a report in the Newcastle Herald, when the cruise ship returned to Melbourne on 30 November, paramedics were waiting for them at the pier. There were supposedly over 2,000 people on board, and ambulances reportedly removed five of them, with at least two requiring further medical attention. Officials in charge of healthcare in the area recommended using ambulances since they were the most accessible option.
One other passenger sought medical attention on the dock but did not require treatment.
This new event occurred only days after officials in Bali refused to allow another cruise ship to dock because of the “elevated” transmission on board. The Queen Elizabeth cruise ship departed Sydney on 15 November for a two-week voyage, with Bali being the final planned stop.