Cruising with Covid

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, there is an active outbreak of Covid on the Coral Princess, one of the vessels in the Princess Cruises/Carnival cruise ship line.

The Coral Princess berthed in Brisbane yesterday after sailing from Port Douglas last week.

The Coral Princess is based in Brisbane, and travels regularly up and down the east coast of Australia.

Coral Princess arriving in Brisbane at commencement of her inaugural season

The Queensland Health Minister, Yvette D’Ath, said the authorities are working with the ship’s owners to offer support and assistance, but there was no suggestion people would be stopped from getting on or off the ship, or that it would be prevented from leaving as scheduled.

This outbreak has occurred at a time when Queensland’s third virus wave is nearing 41,000 active cases and the latest Omicron variants of the virus seem to be spreading more quickly in the Australian community than the last ones.

The outbreak among the crew and some passengers on the Coral Princess in Brisbane on Sunday have reportedly led to Princess Cruises offering refunds to those booked on its next 12-day cruise.

As of 1 July, on its website, Princess Cruises were advertising that:

At Princess, we want to make your vacation as easy, hassle-free and safe as possible. We respect that every guest has choices, and regardless of your vaccination status, we have amazing vacations for you to enjoy.

‘With the recent easing of CDC vaccination requirements, the options available to unvaccinated guests continue to expand. We can now include up to 10% of unvaccinated guests on most sailings without burdensome exemptions or vaccine status justification, available on a first-come, first-served basis.

‘We look forward to serving all your vacation needs and welcoming you on board soon.

The 2000-guest ship has offered 11 cruises departing Brisbane ranging from 3-12 nights between June and August before returning for another 10 cruises this summer from November.

The Medallion Class ship will make 48 calls to the State’s ports this year, including her first visits to Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays, Cairns and Port Douglas, which makes for a popular cruise program.

We don’t have any more details of what passengers and would be passengers have opted to do yet, but will be interested to discover later how many decided to leave the ship or cancel their cruise bookings.

The cruise program is due to pick up again from Fremantle in October this year and early next year, as we recently reported here.. Hopefully, Covid is well under control by then.

Update 12 July – Queensland Health are today reporting some 100 people are affected by the Covid outbreak as the cruise ship heads toward Eden on the NSW south coast.

Update 13 July – some facts and stats. It transpires the Coral Princess 2,300 + people on board. She docked in Eden and has arrived in Sydney this morning. Tomorrow it leaves for its home port of Brisbane. It seems crew are mostly affected, with 114 in isolation. Queensland Health reported that 4 passengers were also isolating after positive results, and 24 had earlier disembarked in Brisbane.

* By Michael Barker

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