A Princess Cruise Lines ship, the Majestic Princess, has docked in Sydney this morning with a rather precarious problem: A total of 800 passengers on board have caught Covid during their Voyage.
The passengers have now disembarked the vessel and are receiving assistance from the operator, as a Carnival Spokesperson (Princess is owned by Carnival) said.
Following a spike in passengers reporting that they’re feeling unwell, Princess has mass-tested passengers throughout the 12-day voyage.
As ABC reported this morning, the total number of passengers that tested positive for Covid-19 has exceeded 800 and therefore the ship is subject to the highest alert level.
Health authorities are working with the operators of the Majestic Princess cruise ship that has docked in Sydney Harbour with hundreds of people infected with COVID on board.
New South Wales Health has confirmed the cruise ship is at the highest COVID alert possible for those on board with a Tier Three warning.
That means at least 20 per cent of people who were on board for the cruise have COVID.
The ship has more than 3,000 passengers and 1,000 crew, with several hundred believed to be infected.
Many passengers have been disembarking from the ship today after testing negative to the virus.
The president of cruise operator Carnival Australia, Marguerite Fitzgerald, said there were about 800 people infected, who were mostly passengers.
“This is a 12-day voyage and we started to see elevated cases about halfway through,” she said.
Ms Fitzgerald said the infected guests are mild or asymptomatic, and have been isolating in their rooms.
“Reflective of the increase in community transmissions, we too have seen more guests test positive for COVID-19 on the current voyage of Majestic Princess. This is a result of mass testing of our 3,300 guests,” she said. …
NSW Health said in a statement that all COVID-positive people onboard were isolating and being cared for by the staff medical team.
“NSW Health’s assessment is that the COVID-19 risk level for the Majestic Princess is now Tier 3, which indicates a high level of transmission,” it said in the statement.
“Carnival has advised NSW Health that they are assisting passengers with COVID-19 to make safe onward travel arrangements.”
One man leaving the ship said he thought the cruise operator had done a good job with protocols, but passengers were not listening to instructions. …
Carnival said all positive cases would be separated from other guests when they disembark the ship.
“We understand this current wave of COVID-19 is concerning to many in the community and we take our responsibility in keeping everyone safe very seriously,” it said in a statement.
“All guests disembarking have undertaken a rapid antigen test in the past 24 hours, which will determine how they will disembark the ship. …
It’s not exactly clear what the company means when it comes to the “safe onward travel arrangements” as it is no longer required to self-isolate at home when testing positive for Covid according the regulations put is place by NSW Health.
NSW does still tally daily infection rates and regardless of the relaxed home isolation rule, individuals still have to register their positive result with the health department according to the website. Obviously this is more of an honor system as there is no way to track the results of home tests.
NSW Health has provided the following statement concerning the cruise ship:
There are currently increasing levels of COVID-19 throughout the community as the current wave of infections, driven by the new Omicron subvariants continues to grow.
In any enclosed space, including cruise ships, there is always a risk that COVID-19 will spread. Cruise ships must inform passengers of this risk. Prompt testing and isolation of cases, along with prevention through wearing masks and good hand hygiene, is important.
NSW Health’s assessment is that the COVID-19 risk level for the Majestic Princess is now Tier 3, which indicates a high level of transmission.
Carnival, the cruise operator has advised NSW Health that all COVID-positive people are isolating and being cared for by the onboard medical team.
NSW Health is liaising with the Majestic Princess cruise ship to monitor the health of its passengers and crew members.
Carnival has advised NSW Health that passengers disembarking from the ship have undertaken a rapid antigen test in the 24 hours leading up to disembarkation.
Carnival has advised NSW Health that they are assisting passengers with COVID-19 to make safe onward travel arrangements.
Further information for cruise ship passengers is available here.
Of course, all cruise lines have individual requirements as far as boarding and conduct on board is concerned. The Captain can also mandate the wearing of masks, something which has caused a lot of criticism in recent months.
From going through the regulations I can’t see a limitation when it comes to the onward travel of Covid positive passengers just as any regular resident wouldn’t be limited in movement anymore.
One would have to consult with the transportation provider if they allow Cov+ travelers to board any of their vehicles, be it an airplane, bus or train. For international travelers who concluded their cruises in Sydney it could be a bit more tricky, but since most countries no longer require testing for arrival, they can probably just go home.
A Princess Cruise ship docked in Sydney harbor this morning, and unfortunately, roughly 800 passengers have gotten sick with Covid during their voyage. All passengers have now disembarked the vessel and are on their way home.
Passengers aren’t subject to isolation as of the latest New South Wales health advisories which makes it easier for them to get on their way. That being said it’s still something to consider when traveling to a foreign destination and always running the risk of catching Covid. Not necessarily a cruise but even traditional travel methods as well.
Before traveling abroad it’s wise to go through the current regulations to know what to do and to assess if you’re able to still return home if health permits rather than being forced to isolate somewhere. On the ships, passengers who test positive are still being isolated but most countries have stopped this now within their communities, including New South Wales.