Cruise ship with 800 Covid cases docks in Sydney

  • Published 12 November 2022
  • Coronavirus

Majestic Princess in 2021

A holiday cruise ship carrying about 800 passengers with Covid-19 has docked in Sydney, Australia.

The Majestic Princess cruise ship arrived at Circular Quay, having sailed from New Zealand.

About 4,600 passengers and crew were aboard the ship when it docked - meaning around one in five had Covid.

The outbreak is reminiscent of the Ruby Princess cruise ship Covid outbreak of early 2020, where at least 900 people tested positive and 28 died.

Marguerite Fitzgerald, the president of cruise operator Carnival Australia, said a large number of cases started to be detected about halfway through the 12-day voyage.

All cases were either asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, she said.

Staff would be assisting all guests who have tested positive "with accessing private transport and accommodation to complete their isolation period", she said. The ship will soon depart for Melbourne.

Asked about comparisons between the Majestic Princess and the Ruby Princess - which also belongs to the same operator - Ms Fitzgerald said: "Since then, we as a community have learnt a lot, a lot more about Covid."

The outbreak comes as Covid cases rise across Australia.

In New South Wales, 19,800 new cases were detected in the seven days to Friday.

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'Serious mistakes' made over cruise ship outbreak

  • Published 17 August 2020

An empty Ruby Princess cruiseship heading past Sydney Opera House and out of Sydney Harbour on 19 March.

COVID-19 cases confirmed aboard first cruise liner to dock in Western Australia after two years

Image of a cruise ship docked at the end of a jetty in northern Australia.

Passengers and staff aboard the first major cruise liner to visit Western Australia in over two years have tested positive for COVID-19, according to health authorities.  

Key points:

  • Health authorities have confirmed passengers and crew aboard the Coral Princess docked in Broome have tested positive to COVID-19
  • The cruise liner is the first major tourist vessel to come to Western Australia since COVID-19 measures put a halt to the industry
  • The operator of the cruise says the outbreak is being "managed effectively" aboard and the ship is set to depart tonight

The Coral Princess, which has the capacity to carry nearly 2,000 passengers, departed Broome on Monday evening, and is en route to Exmouth, Geraldton, Fremantle and the state's South West.

The ship is due to arrive in Geraldton on Thursday. 

It's the first major cruise liner to grace Western Australia's shores, after COVID-19 measures banned them from Australian waters in 2020. 

A WA Health spokesperson said passengers and crew aboard the vessel had tested positive for COVID-19. 

"WA Health has been advised of passengers and crew testing positive to COVID-19, and this evolving situation is being managed by the vessel operator according to its COVID-19 plan," the spokesperson said. 

"Under the protocols, those onboard vessels who have COVID should isolate for five days." 

A spokesperson for the company operating the vessel, Princess Cruises, said a rise in COVID-19 cases aboard was being "managed effectively" in accordance with national and state protocols. 

"Coral Princess is scheduled to depart from Broome this evening (October 24) on her itinerary that includes Geraldton, Fremantle, Busselton and Albany before returning to Sydney next month," the spokesperson said. 

"It is not our practice to issue case numbers independently of public health authorities and we are adhering to that approach on this occasion."  

President of Carnival Australia, the owner of Princess Cruises, Marguerite Fitzgerald said over the weekend and on Monday "a small number of our 2,000 guests travelling on the Coral Princess tested positive to COVID-19". 

"As a result, these guests will unfortunately need to isolate onboard for five days," Ms Fitzgerald said. 

"For the remaining and majority of our guests, they can continue to access our facilities and are able to disembark at the scheduled destinations.

"Importantly, all symptomatic guests are tested, and this has ensured early detection and protection of other guests and our crew."

Image of a large tour bus driving down the jetty at Broome Port

The Coral Princess's arrival was initially welcomed with open arms by the local business community, with disembarking passengers providing a financial boost for the Broome economy. 

The Shire of Broome said it anticipated the passengers would contribute $190,000 towards the local economy.

"It is carrying around 1,900 passengers, many of which spent the day in Broome or went on shore excursions to places such as Willie Creek Pearls," the Shire of Broome said. 

Passengers who disembarked on Monday were also seen at Broome’s Chinatown, the Broome Boulevard Shopping Centre and travelled out to the world-famous Cable Beach.

The Kimberley region had a cautious response to COVID-19 during the early stages of the pandemic, with the region cut-off from the rest of Western Australia in early 2020 to protect residents.

With the higher percentage of First Nations people living in the region and presence of remote Indigenous communities, local health providers have urged people to get vaccinated. 

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Third Australian cruise in weeks turns into 'nightmare' after fungus outbreak prevents entry into New Zealand

New zealand's regulations are meant to prevent invasive marine species from destroying reefs.

Viking Orion cruise ship stranded 8 days at sea due to fungal growth outbreak

Viking Orion cruise ship stranded 8 days at sea due to fungal growth outbreak

A passenger on the cruise ship Viking Orion describes what happened when a marine fungus outbreak on the ship’s hull prevented entry into New Zealand. Credit: Reuters

A total of three cruise ships over the past few weeks in Australian waters have been denied entry into New Zealand and forced to change itineraries due to a buildup of marine fungus.

The Seven Seas Explorer, a luxury cruise ship in the Regent Seven Seas Cruises fleet, was denied entry in New Zealand waters this week due to what New Zealand described as "higher than allowed levels of algae, barnacles, tube worms, and potential oysters present" on the ship’s hull, RNZ reported .

The ship departed Sydney, Australia, on Dec. 29 with plans to make stops at eight ports and three fjords, and spend three days at sea, but an American passenger on the ship told Fox News Digital the trip "turned into a nightmare" and will now consist of 11 days at sea and only one port after the ship was required to wait in the open ocean for a cleaning crew to eradicate the marine life.

The passenger explained that the trip has become a frustrating ordeal with changing plans, inconsistent messaging from the crew, and uncertainty about being compensated for the derailed vacations.

VIKING POLARIS PASSENGERS SPEAK OUT AFTER 'ROGUE WAVE' STRIKES ANTARCTIC CRUISE SHIP, KILLING AMERICAN WOMAN

Seven Seas Explorer

The Seven Seas Explorer anchors in Alanya, Turkey, on Sept. 4, 2022. (Mert Canturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

"We have been in limbo all day with land in sight, going nowhere," the passenger said. "Very little information forthcoming and what we do hear keeps changing."

"As an option to staying on board for the remainder of the cruise, we are now told that when we reach Adelaide, we may disembark and make our own plans to get home all at our own expense and nobody on board to assist us in plans," the passenger said. "Regent Seven Seas claims their luxury cruises are ‘unrivaled experiences.’ This is not what we had in mind."

TURKISH TIFFANY'S TYCOON DIES AFTER MYSTERIOUS FALL FROM CRUISE SHIP

Seven Seas Explorer docked in Adelaide, Australia

Seven Seas Explorer docked in Adelaide, Australia. (Fox News Digital)

A spokesperson for Regent Seven Seas cruises told Fox News Digital the ship is "currently sailing a 14-night cruise which guests embarked on Dec. 29, 2022, and are scheduled to disembark in Auckland, New Zealand, on Jan. 12, 2023."

The company said it is "committed to working with our local partners across the globe to minimize our impact on the surrounding environment of the destinations we visit" and explained that local regulations in New Zealand required a cleaning of the Seven Seas Explorer's hull.

"The cleaning must be carried out by a company recognized by New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries, none of which have been available at ports the ship has recently visited or would have visited before its scheduled entry to New Zealand waters," the spokesperson said. 

The spokesperson said all guests on board have been offered 100% refund of their paid cruise only fare and "a number of guests chose to disembark in Adelaide to make their onward travels."

CARNIVAL, CELEBRITY CRUISE CREWS RESCUE DOZENS OF MIGRANTS DRIFTING IN SMALL BOATS OFF FLORIDA, VIDEOS SHOW

"We understand and apologize for the inconvenience, frustration and disappointment this disruption has caused to our valued guests, and we appreciate their continued understanding," the statement said.

Two additional cruise ships in recent weeks have failed to meet New Zealand’s environmental standards, including the 14-deck, 930-person cruise ship Viking Orion that was blocked from entering New Zealand ports and stranded for eight days at sea last week due to what the company told Fox News Digital was a "limited amount of standard marine growth."

Viking Cruises confirmed to Reuters that it will provide passengers with a voucher equal to what they paid for the cruise. 

Two weeks ago, a Princess Cruise Lines ship known as the Coral Princess was stopped from entering New Zealand due to a buildup of marine snails that resulted in an apology from the cruise line and a refund of roughly $100 to passengers and 15% off their next trip – an amount most on board were "not very happy with," a passenger told the outlet.

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Viking Orion

The Viking Orion cruise ship berthed on April 16, 2020, in Melbourne, Australia.  (Udo Weitz/picture alliance via Getty Images)

The three cruise ships failed to meet New Zealand’s "biofouling standards," which are designed to prevent invasive species from damaging reefs. 

"If they make it to our reefs, they might decimate the environment and cause some serious issues," Flinders University associate professor Sophie Leterme told AAP . 

Paul Hallett, manager environmental health Biosecurity New Zealand, told Fox News Digital that "nearly 90 per cent of marine pests arrive in New Zealand on the submerged surfaces of international vessels" and "such pests can adversely impact New Zealand’s environment, unique marine ecosystems, aquaculture industry and economy."

"It is incorrect to say that the three ships were denied entry to New Zealand," Hallett continued. "Only the Coral Princess was initially denied entry – due to its high levels of a high-risk organism, snails. The Coral Princess was cleaned in the EEZ 77km off the coast of Tauranga, after which it was allowed to visit New Zealand."

Hallet said the other ships were "allowed to visit approved ports, but not areas with special marine environments" such as Fiordland and "both visited approved ports in December, but were instructed to have biofouling removed before subsequent voyages to New Zealand."  

Andrew Mark Miller is a reporter at Fox News. Find him on Twitter @andymarkmiller and email tips to [email protected].

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Their 'purpose is to be fun'. But there's a dark side to cruising the seas

Record numbers of cruise ship passengers are arriving in australian ports, signalling a buoyant return for an industry that until recently seemed all but dead in the water. while that's good for business, the impact of the cruise industry on the environment can’t be overlooked..

Large Chinese-made cruise ship Adora sits at port under an orange sunset

The available research paints a bleak picture of the environmental impacts of cruising Credit: Costfoto/Sipa USA

  • Over 1 million people are forecast to take a cruise in Australia this summer, almost a third more than pre-pandemic.
  • However, experts warn that cruising remains a major source of air, water and land pollution.
  • Research suggests one large cruise ship can have a greater carbon footprint than 12,000 cars.

How bad are cruises for the environment?

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Cruise liner the Ruby Princess docks at Circular Quay in Sydney

Cruise bookings sail above pre-Covid numbers as industry employs aggressive pricing

The industry’s revival is remarkable for a sector once synonymous with the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus pandemic

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The cruise line industry has come roaring back to life, marking a remarkable revival for a sector once synonymous with the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

The record number of passengers now cruising to Australian ports, which surpasses the pre-pandemic era, is credited to aggressive pricing strategies enticing customers away from high air fares and expensive hotels.

Lingering health concerns of holidaying in close-quarters appear to have dissipated, with about 1.1 million people forecast to take a cruise in Australia this summer season, according to industry figures. That is almost one-third above pre-pandemic numbers.

New figures show Carnival Australia, the country’s largest cruise ship operator, will make 846 domestic port calls in 2024, compared with 575 last year, underpinned by a boom in Queensland cruise holidays.

Demand for short cruises, which typically last from two to five days, is particularly strong.

“There was a lot of pent-up demand for cruising in Australia after the industry was shut down for two years,” Carnival Australia’s chief commercial officer, Kathryn Robertson, said.

“Plus, with so many interest rate rises, Australians are looking for holidays that are affordable.”

Carnival Australia, part of the US-listed Carnival Corporation, includes P&O, Princess, Seabourn, and several other branded liners.

Few companies have endured a more tumultuous journey through the pandemic than cruise operators.

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Passengers on the Diamond Princess suffered a horror holiday at the start of the pandemic, as contagion swept through the vessel which was quarantined at the port of Yokohama. The outbreak resulted in 14 deaths.

Shortly after, a breakdown in Australia’s biosecurity safeguards was blamed for allowing an outbreak on the Ruby Princess to help spread the virus around the country after docking in Sydney. An inquiry linked more than 900 Covid-19 cases and 28 deaths to the ship.

The industry shut earlier, and reopened later, than other parts of the tourism and travel sector, raising questions over whether passengers would ever feel safe about cruising again.

Cruise ships represent a higher risk setting for communicable diseases, including gastroenteritis and Covid-19, according to Australian health authorities.

Pierre Benckendorff, a professor of tourism business at the University of Queensland, said the relative cheapness of cruising had won over consumers amid rising living costs.

He said cruise operators offered discounts last year at a time when international air fares were at record highs , putting the industry on track to surpass revenues generated in 2019, which itself was a high point.

“The big appeal is the all-inclusive ticket price, which, while it often doesn’t include alcohol, still allows you to stick to a budget very easily,” he said.

He said cruising loyalists tend to be “destination agnostic”.

P&O Cruises – a line operated by Carnival – advertises a 12-night voyage from Sydney to Fiji via New Caledonia in May from $1,389 per person for a twin share room, which includes all meals.

In contrast, return flights from Sydney to Nadi during the same period would cost a traveller about $650 alone.

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Speaking generally, Benckendorff said the attractive pricing for cruise packages was only possible because operators weren’t subject to laws governing Australian wages.

“Shipping companies are operating in international waters, they’re not subject to Australian minimum award wages, so they’ll register the ship somewhere else with cheaper wages, and staff won’t be Australian, they might be from the Philippines or Greece,” he said.

“Their cost base is much lower than an airline or restaurant in Australia, that’s how they keep their prices competitive.”

In a sign of the strong outlook for cruising, new entrants are courting the local market.

In December, Virgin global founder Sir Richard Branson travelled to Sydney to launch Virgin Voyages in Australia, a Florida-headquartered line geared towards adults, specifically the singles market.

Disney’s cruise line has made a foray into Australia and New Zealand, beginning with an October to February season with port calls in Hobart and Noumea among others.

Disney is also building a new cruise ship to be based out of Singapore – its first in Asia – which will probably lead to more Australian itineraries in the future.

The past year has proven to be a boon for shareholders of the world’s three biggest operators, listed in the US.

Carnival shares are up more than 80% from a year ago, even after a recent pullback. Shares in Royal Caribbean Cruises have increased more than 110%, while Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings stock has risen 30%.

Despite the gains, the share prices have yet to fully recover to pre-pandemic highs, as inflationary cost pressures affecting food and onboard services pressure profit margins.

The growth in the sector comes despite an increasing awareness of the health and environmental impacts of the industry, which is pitting climate groups against those seeking to expand the floating tourism sector.

Port cities around Europe have been considering restrictions on cruise ships, which included a 2021 decision by the Italian government to permanently ban large liners in the Venetian lagoon.

Meanwhile, the NSW government is looking for a new cruise terminal site amid fears it is losing market share of port visits to other states.

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Fleet Update: Celebrity Cruises Ship Locations

  • January 26, 2024

Celebrity Summit

After welcoming a new cruise ship to its fleet in November, Celebrity Cruises is offering a winter season with itineraries in the Caribbean, South America, the Mediterranean, Asia, Australia and more.

Cruise Industry News tracked the locations and itineraries of the company’s ships as of January 26, 2024:

Celebrity Ascent Year Built: 2023 Capacity: 3,260 guests Location: Western Caribbean

After entering service in late 2023 , the Celebrity Ascent is offering a series of itineraries to the Caribbean and the Bahamas. Sailing from Fort Lauderdale, the vessel offers seven-night cruises to popular destinations, such as Cozumel, in Mexico, and San Juan, in Puerto Rico.

Celebrity Beyond Year Built: 2022 Capacity: 3,260 guests Location: Southern Caribbean

The Celebrity Beyond is offering ten- and 11-night cruises departing from Port Everglades. Sailing to the Southern Caribbean and Central America, the longer itineraries also include partial transits of the Panama Canal.

Celebrity Apex Year Built: 2020 Capacity: 2,900 guests Location: Western Caribbean

The Celebrity Apex is offering week-long cruises to the Caribbean departing from Fort Lauderdale. This week, the 2020-built vessel is sailing to the Western Caribbean as part of a seven-night itinerary that feature visits to Key West, Cozumel, Belize and Grand Cayman.

Celebrity Edge Year Built: 2018 Capacity: 2,900 guests Location: Australia & New Zealand

After debuting in the South Pacific in late 2023 , the Celebrity Edge is currently cruising in Australia & New Zealand region. Sailing from Sydney, the 2,900-guest vessel offers a series of six- to 12-night itineraries to the Great Barrier Reef, Tasmania and New Zealand.

Celebrity Reflection Year Built: 2012 Capacity: 3,030 guests Location: Eastern Caribbean

The Celebrity Reflection is offering an alternating schedule of six- and eight-night itineraries to the Eastern, Western, and Southern Caribbean. The ship’s program features a variety of ports of call, including St. Thomas, Bimini, Aruba, San Juan, Cozumel and more.

Celebrity Silhouette Year Built: 2011 Capacity: 2,886 guests Location: The Bahamas

The Celebrity Silhouette is presently offering a short cruise to Florida and the Bahamas. Sailing from Port Everglades, the four-night itinerary includes full-day visits to Key West and Nassau, as well as an entire day at sea.

Celebrity Eclipse Year Built: 2010 Capacity: 2,850 guests Location: South America

Spending the winter in South America, the Celebrity Eclipse is offering a series of 12- to 14-night cruises to Patagonia that feature visits to Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. The longer itineraries also include scenic cruising in Antarctica, as well as stops in the Falkland Islands.

Celebrity Equinox Year Built: 2009 Capacity: 2,850 guests Location: Southern Caribbean

Continuing its year-round deployment out of Fort Lauderdale, the Celebrity Equinox is presently sailing to the Southern Caribbean. The ship’s nine- and ten-night itineraries feature visits to Antigua, St. Kitts, Barbados, Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire and more.

Celebrity Solstice Year Built: 2008 Capacity: 2,850 guests Location: Southeast Asia

The Celebrity Solstice is operating a full winter program in Southeast Asia. Sailing between Hong Kong and Singapore, the 2008-built vessel offers 12-night cruises to Thailand and Vietnam that feature visits to Ko Samui, Laem Chabang, Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang, Da Nang and Halong Bay.

Celebrity Constellation Year Built: 2002 Capacity: 1,950 guests Location: Southern Caribbean

Sailing from Tampa, the Celebrity Constellation is offering varied itineraries to the Caribbean and Central America. Between January and February, the ship’s program features five- to 12-day cruises to the Southern Caribbean, Louisiana, Mexico and more.

Celebrity Summit Year Built: 2001 Capacity: 1,950 guests Location: Southern Caribbean

Based in PortMiami, the Celebrity Summit is presently operating a series of week-long charter cruises. With different musical theme cruises, the operation runs through mid-February and feature visits to several destinations in the Southern Caribbean.

Celebrity Infinity Year Built: 2001

Capacity: 1,950 guests Location: Marseille, France

The Celebrity Infinity is currently undergoing scheduled maintenance at a shipyard in Marseille, France. Set to resume service in early February, the ship is spending the winter cruising in Europe , with itineraries visiting the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands and more.

Celebrity Millennium Year Built: 2000 Capacity: 1,950 guests Location: Southeast Asia

Sailing year-round in Asia, the Celebrity Millennium is offering winter cruises in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean. Set to be followed by itineraries in Japan and Northeast Asia, the program features destinations in India, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and more.

Celebrity Flora Year Built: 2019 Capacity: 100 guests Location: The Galapagos

The Celebrity Flora offers exploration cruises in the Galapagos Islands on a year-round basis. Purpose-built to sail in the region, the 100-guest vessel sails out of Baltra for seven-night itineraries to some of the archipelago’s most important sites.

Celebrity Xpedition Year Built: 2001 Capacity: 100 guests Location: The Galapagos

The Celebrity Xpedition also offers expedition cruises to the Galapagos on a year-round basis. Departing from Baltra as well, the vessel’s seven-night itineraries include several islands in the Ecuadorian islands, such as Daphne Island, Urvina Bayand more.

Celebrity Xploration Year Built: 2007 Capacity: 16 guests Location: The Galapagos

The Xploration completes Celebrity’s three-ship fleet in the Galapagos. A 16-guest catamaran, the 2007-built vessel offers regular seven-night expeditions departing from Baltra that sail to Puerto Ayora, Gardner Bay and more.

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Meet the ‘Chief Dog Officer’ on Royal Caribbean’s New Ship — a Puppy Named Rover

The golden retriever is already ”everyone’s favorite new crew member”

cruise ship australia news

Royal Caribbean International/Instagram (2)

Rover is having a ball — fur real! The golden retriever is the furriest crew member on Royal Caribbean’s new Icon of the Seas cruise ship. 

The 5-month-old puppy has been taking daily walks and hanging out with her handler Alison Hubble and Captain Henrik Loy ahead of the ship’s public maiden voyage to the Caribbean from Miami on Jan. 27.

“Alison is always by Rover's side to make every day fun and to make sure she has plenty of naps and never misses out on any treats,” Royal Caribbean said in an Instagram video.

“Rover’s job is to bring joy and happiness to her fellow crew and guests onboard,” the video continued. ”Rover has already made herself at home.”

Rover will have ample space to walk and play as Icon of the Seas is 1,198 feet long , making it the world's largest cruise ship.

Royal Caribbean International/Instagram

To put that size in perspective, the ship is the length of nearly three and a half football fields and can hold up to 5,610 guests.

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Dubbed ”everyone's favorite new crew member” out of the 2,350-person crew, Rover will also spend time off of the ship to explore the shores and ports throughout the Eastern or Western Caribbean as well as at the Royal Caribbean’s private island, Perfect Day at Coco Cay , in the Bahamas. 

Royal Caribbean

Icon of the Seas also includes seven pools, six waterslides as well as more than 40 restaurants, bars and lounges, where guests might spot Rover.

The prospect of meeting Rover has already enticed some people to want to book a cruise on this ship, with one Instagram user saying, “That’s it, I’m booking. Just need to meet this cute pup on board.”

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