Cruise ships are returning to Australia, New Zealand and Tahiti amidst reports that four cruise ships (two operated by Princess Cruises and two by Royal Caribbean) are rife with COVID-19. Three of the ships have one hundred or more COVID-19 infected guests on each ship. Royal Caribbean has one ship heading to Australia with reports of around 400 infected passengers.

Coral Princess – Currently 100 COVID-19 Passenger Cases

ABC News in Australia report in an article titled COVID-19 Cases Confirmed Aboard First Cruise Liner to Dock in Western Australia After Two Years that an outbreak of COVID-19 occurred on the Coral Princess which arrived in Western Australia this week. Passengers and crew members aboard the Princess cruise ship, the first major cruise ship to visit Western Australia in over two years, tested positive for COVID-19. The limited data regarding the number of people infected with COVID-19 was reported not by the cruise ship’s owner, the ever-evasive Carnival Corporation, or the ship’s operator, the ever-mum Princess Cruises, but by the local health organization, WA Health. President of Carnival Australia, the owner of Princess Cruises, Marguerite Fitzgerald, said last Monday that only “a small number” of guests on the Coral Princess tested positive for COVID-19.”

Other Carnival cruise representatives have resorted to the “it’s just a small number” mumbo-jumbo while evading providing an accurate number of passengers infected with COVID-19 on Carnival Corporation owned cruise ships. Carnival has repeatedly claimed that literally every single COVID-19 shipboard outbreak, whether it included 5, 15, 50, 150 or more people, was always just a so-called “small number.”

The Australian newspaper reported that there have been at least “100 confirmed cases of Covid-19 on-board” the Coral Princess. It is less than clear how many crew members were positive for COVID-19. The newspaper estimated that although this ship may accommodate 2,390 passengers, the Coral Princess currently is hosting 1,900 passengers with 900 crew members.

Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, Coral Princess departed from Broome on Monday evening (October 24th) on an Australian itinerary which includes Geraldton, Fremantle, Busselton and Albany, where passengers are expected to go ashore to shop and sightsee, before returning to Sydney next month.” The potential of spreading COVID-19 to residents of the ports, particularly elderly and vulnerable victims, is painfully obvious.

It seems a bit like déjà vu to hear of a Princess cruise ship arriving in Australia with passengers infected with COVID-19. Back in 2020, the Australian government launched an inquiry  to determine why 2,700 passengers, hundreds of whom were infected with COVID-19, disembarked the Ruby Princess cruise ship in Sydney, leading to Australia’s biggest single source of the coronavirus outbreak at the time. Forbes reported that the “report linked more than 900 Covid-19 cases and 28 deaths to the Ruby Princess, including 20 in Australia and eight in the US,”  It also found that over 16% of the crew contracted the virus, and almost 40% of Australian passengers onboard.

A class action lawsuit against Princess Cruises began in Australia last week, according to ABC News.

Majestic Princess – Currently 116 COVID-19 Passenger Cases

Another Carnival owned and Princess Cruises cruise ship, the Majestic Princess, was quarantined after arriving in Tahiti two weeks ago with at least 116 cases of COVID-19, according to a local newspaper. The newspaper did not address the total number of guests or crew on the ship.

Ovation of the Seas – Currently 129 COVID-19 Passenger Cases & 2 Crew Cases

Meanwhile, RNZ reported in an article titled More Than 130 Covid-19 Cases On One of First Cruise Ships to Return to New Zealand that there are currently at least 129 passengers and two crew members who tested positive for COVID-19 on Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas which recently arrived in New Zealand.

The Royal Caribbean ship carries almost 5,000 passengers and 1.300 crew, although the press did not state the guest occupancy or number of crew members working on the ship during this voyage .

The newspaper reports that the Ovation of the Seas which sailed to Napier, New Zealand from Tahiti, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand yesterday morning and is now sailing to Picton, New Zealand and then to Sydney, Australia.

Quantum of the Seas – Currently 400 COVID-19 Passenger Cases

9 News in Queensland, Australia reports that 400 guests on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas heading towards Queensland may be positive with COVID-19.  Royal Caribbean refuses to confirm the number or state how many people are infected. Reports are that COVID-19-only decks of infected passengers are “overflowing” with infected guests.

There is occupancy on the ship for over 4,000 guests with 1,500 crew members, although there is no public information regarding the number of passengers or crew.

There are many dozens of people leaving comments on Twitter about the huge outbreak on the Quantum of the Seas, with some tweeting:

“So many of these plague cruises in AU-NZ waters now it’s getting hard to keep track, is this same one which sailed from Sydney to NZ or it another one?’

Royal Caribbean requires it guests to comply with Australian Federal and State Government guidelines for cruising, which state that “at least 95% of guests must be fully vaccinated for Covid-19. All guests ages 12 and older will need to present proof of full vaccination approved by the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration),  at the terminal in order to sail.”

Just a week ago, a number of ports in New Zealand and Australia were welcoming back cruise ships from Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean with great fanfare. At least one commentator noted the madness of inviting back ships which carried and transmitted disease to residents in and near Australia, not to mention the negative environmental impacts and minimal economic contribution.

Although there are currently around 750 infected passengers total on the four cruise ships in question, this inevitable result is not particularly surprising.  Before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stopped reporting on the number of COVID-19 infections on cruise ships (last July), 100% of cruise ships sailing from U.S. ports had passengers and/or crew infected with COVID-19. See, Where Did the Green Cruise Ships Go? – 100% of Cruise Ships Have COVID-19 Cases. The average number of infections when the CDC stopped making the number of COVID-19 infection on cruise ships public earlier this summer was at least 100.

Fortunately, there are informed scientists who are sounding the alarm of the danger of infecting residents of the ports in Australia by permitting passengers from the Coral Princess and other cruise ships to disembark.

Unfortunately, these cruise lines are committed to permitting their cruise guests to go on excursions and shopping trips ashore, irrespective of the danger of again spreading COVID-19 a la the Ruby Princess.

Cruise Passengers With “Cough & Cold Symptoms” Are Ignoring Local Law

Australian newspaper Stuff chronicled the plight of the small town of Pincton, Australia. Royal Caribbean passengers from the Ovation of the Seas, who were disembarked in the the port town, were going into the local pharmacy with “cough and cold symptoms.” Pharmacist Graeme Smith was quoted saying “I know that Covid is on that ship . . . people are supposed to wear a mask” coming into a health facility. “We have free masks on the counter and a sign but people are ignoring it. There is so many people you can’t control it. It’s already mandatory according to government rules. I don’t know what the cruise industry is doing about it.”

He is the pharmacy’s only pharmacist, meaning that if he caught the virus the outlet would be without one.

Stuff also focused on the fact that Royal Caribbean were not complying with Australian law which requires seven days of quarantine for people symptomatic wit COVID-19.

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Image credit: Top – Quantum of the SeasIngo Wagner / DPA / AFP via RNZ