They’ve been responsible for some of the most intensive coronavirus outbreaks, but Australians are not deterred from going on cruise ships and some would jump aboard tomorrow if they could.
“Just bring the cruise ships back – tomorrow would be great,” retiree Mark told A Current Affair on Tuesday evening.
“I’m not going to stop living our lives. I’d take the risk and that’s why I’m not going to hesitate getting back on board.”
Mark and wife Leanne have been on 142 cruises and have 21 booked.
They’re not the only ones – several others told ACA how they’ve already rebooked for later this year.
The Ruby Princess cruise ship has been responsible for 18 deaths and hundreds of coronavirus cases. NSW Police announced a criminal investigation into the operator of the Ruby Princess, Carnival Australia, earlier this month, while Shine Lawyers in Australia have mounted a class action against the company saying passengers were not advised of the risk and were not monitored for symptoms.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said early indications suggested an infected crew member was most likely responsible for the outbreak.
The Diamond Princess cruise ship that was forced to moor off Japan in a bungled quarantine was also responsible for at least 12 people dying and 700 who contracted the virus.
Cruise Lines International Association managing director Australasia Joel Katz said anecdotally they were seeing bookings return in the industry.
“We know that cruise passengers are resilient,” he told ACA.
Some passengers are being offered rewards for rebooking their cruises instead of getting a refund, with one mum getting $900 credit to spend on board to move her trip to December.
Cruise blogger Honida Beram said during this difficult time people wanted something to look forward to.
However Curtin University epidemiologist Professor Archie Clements warned if you’re sick in the middle of the ocean you’re a long way from help. He said cruise ships were riskier than planes because you were enclosed for longer.
“It would be a very bad idea to get on a cruise ship during a pandemic,” he told ACA.
“Even once the pandemic ends there’s still the risk of circulation in parts of the world where the surveillance isn’t as good as Australia.”
Australia has recorded 72 deaths from COVID-19 so far with 6645 confirmed cases, including 2969 in New South Wales, 1336 in Victoria, 1024 in Queensland, 437 in South Australia, 546 in Western Australia, 201 in Tasmania, 104 in the Australian Capital Territory and 28 in the Northern Territory.