A number of crew members aboard the Ruby Princess have requested assistance as the cruise ship remains drifting off the coast of Australia for over a week.
The crew members, who have requested to remain anonymous, have stated that several of the most seriously ill seaman have been transported from the ship. The crew is concerned that there does not appear to be a firm plan for their future as more and more of their colleagues on the ship become ill.
The predicament facing the crew member follows several thousands of guests from the Ruby Princess, many of who were ill, being permitted to leave the ship in Sydney and disperse throughout Australia and the world, via international airports, without even having their temperatures taken. Since then well over a hundred passengers have tested positive for COVID-19. To understand the scope of this debacle, listen to the podcast How the Ruby Princess cruise ship debacle spread coronavirus across Australia via the Guardian newspaper.
This morning we received this particular message from a crew member on the ship.
“Ruby Princess has been drifting off Australia since March 20.
Despite the best efforts of Princess, the Australian Government will not assist the vessel, where 1050+ very scared crew members are literally imprisoned on board with no real concrete info or plan.
The crew is sick and getting sicker. 2 days ago they off loaded in the dead of night a Senior Officer to the hospital – tonight 3 more crew members, one on a ventilator, were also sent off. Pics & announcement made to crew attached.
I need to remain anonymous. I will check this email in the morning Australia time and if you need further details I can call.
Please help this situation is now dire.”
In an updated message, the crew member stated:
“Guests off since 3/19. Got a few tests several days ago but only swabs so far no way to tell if crew are positive for COVID. Crew have all been put in Guest cabins about 700 with another 300 serving those in cabins. (making & delivering food, temp checks, etc.). Crew are terrified. No solid information only pep talks broadcast by Hotel Director. Commodore (Snr. Capt. of fleet) made an angry announcement as crew were not following isolation saying no port would allow ship to dock in present condition and it would be months before crew would see their families. Commodore was to retire at the end of the last cruise and is not reassuring. No idea how many actually have Covid but MANY have symptoms including lack of taste & smell.”
Nearly two months ago, the world watched the the Diamond Princess fiasco unfold with over 700 guests and crew members eventually testing positive with ten people dead. Then a month later, another cruise ship owned by Carnival Corporation and operated by Princess – the Grand Princess – made a relatively quick turn around at the port in San Francisco following a cruise to Mexico with several passengers with coronavirus aboard. Nineteen crew members later tested positive before the ship was locked down in port in Oakland. What, if any, lessons did Carnival Corporation and Princess learn from these prior debacles?
Other Carnival Corporation-owned cruise ships, operated by Holland America Line (HAL), are facing similar dilemmas. The HAL Zaandam currently is in the midst of a coronavirus which has killed four passengers so far and sickened numerous more. The HAL Rotterdam, after rendezvousing with the Zaandam near Panama is now transferring guests which the company claims are “well” onto the Rotterdam. A crew member, who also wishes to remain anonymous, sent a photograph of a “Welcome Aboard” letter which was placed in each new guest’s cabin, together with complimentary beer and wine. The crew members, meanwhile, are naturally concerned that these new guests, and the crew, will eventually become sick with COVID-19.
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Update: A news station in Australia covered the COVID-19 outbreak involving the crew members on the Ruby Princess.
Photograph: Top – transfer of ill crew member from the Ruby Princess – anonymous crew member; Ruby Princess in Sydney- Getty Images via the Guardian Newspaper.