7NEWS Australia reports today that 200 passengers infected with COVID-19 disembarked from the Grand Princess in Melbourne, Australia after the Princess cruise ship completed a thirteen-day around-trip to New Zealand. There are no public accounts of the number of infected crew members.

7News Australia reports on its Facebook page that “200 COVID positive patients have been allowed to come ashore in Melbourne after they were caught up in a cruise ship nightmare. Some had been stuck in tiny cabins with limited supplies for up to eight days before they were allowed to disembark.”

In an article titled “COVID-Infested Cruise Ship Docks in Melbourne,” 3AW 693 News Talk interviewed a passenger on the Grand Princess. The guest, who was not positive with COVID-19, commented that she did not notice other people on the ship coughing or exhibiting signs of the virus. But she said that there was no general testing of guests whatsoever during the nearly two-week cruise.  The majority of the passengers left the ship without being tested, thus obviously leading to additional potential transmission and spread of the virus.

With Australia recently opening up for cruises, there has been a spate of COVID19 outbreaks on cruises calling on Australian ports:

Majestic Princess800 infected guests (Sydney)

Quantum of the Seas400 infected guests (heading toward Queensland)

Coral Princess – 290 infected guests and crew (Fremantle);

Ovation of the Seas – 129 infected guests and 2 crew member (New Zealand)

Majestic Princess – 116 infected guests (Tahiti).

On just three Princess cruise ships (Grand Princess, Majestic Princess and Coral Princess), there have been a total of over 1,400 passengers infected with COVID-19. Although a Princess Cruise spokesperson said that the COVID-positive cases onboard are either “asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic,” the truth of the matter is that “in a well-rehearsed routine, ambulances ferried the sickest to hospitals and the others were told to go home and isolate.” (see Newshub “COVID-19: Ambulances meet cruise ship in Sydney after hundreds of passengers get infected.”

In the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak on the Diamond Princess back in 2020, I asked Princess Cruises whether the virus could be spread through airborne particles. In response to my inquiry in mid-February 2020 which I posted on Twitter (along with a photo of Princess crew members huddled together in a hallway in the crew area), Princess Cruises wrongfully denied that the virus can be transmitted through the air. It cited to the World Health Organization that the virus is allegedly “mainly” transmitted via droplets from close person to person contact.

It remains surreal to see thousands of cruise guests packed together in the small confines of a Princess cruise ship, breathing the same air and risking exposure to an airborne virus.

The Grand Princess is now scheduled to cruise to Sydney and other ports in Australia.

Unfortunately, the Australian NSW government’s travel website list, under the title “Update on cruise vessel COVID-19 status” (last updated November 16th), does not indicate a percentage of passengers and crew who have tested positive to COVID-19 in the last seven days for this particular cruise ship.” (Tier 1 is “0.0% to <3%.” Tier 2 is “3% to <10%.” Tier 3 is “=10%.) There is no official indication nor warning that the Grand Princess is sailing with around 10% of the approximate 2,000 passengers infected with COVID-19.

In an opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald, Margot Saville made the point that Australia has learned precisely nothing from the Ruby Princess COVID-19 debacle in 2020, which led to the deaths of 28 people and unleashed a wave of the virus that could have overwhelmed the Australian health system. She asked rhetorically “should a behemoth like the Majestic Princess be free to flush out more than 660 sick passengers into the community” with nothing more than a warning to stay off public transport?

The same question should be asked of Princess Cruises after the Grand Princess, Majestic Princess and Coral Princess have dumped over 1,400 infected guests ashore in Australian ports and smaller communities ashore?

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Image credit: Grand Princess – screengrab from 7 News Australia YouTube