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Ruby Princess - a media article worth reading


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The magazine in today's Australian newspaper has an article on the Ruby Princess.  The magazine cover has a full size photo of the Ruby Princess with two police rescue personnel in the foreground of the photo, so you can't miss it.  The article itself is from the point of view of several passengers on board that fateful cruise who were later diagnosed with Covid19. There is no cruise blame here.  Just sadness that they fell ill and anger at the way they were treated as lepers by those in their communities that blamed them for cruising and bringing the virus into those communities.

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16 hours ago, MicCanberra said:

I didn't get the Australian so the link would be good.

It will be paywalled anyway. The Australian is a grinch. And because of the copyright warnings here 😉 we can't post much anyway. We get The Australian delivered, but we still have to pay another fee to get the digital version. Forget it. 

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11 minutes ago, Pushka said:


No, it's paywalled as I mentioned. Need to subscribe. 

 

Ok so the link doesn't work.  However  when I google "Australian Newspaper Ruby Princess" it comes up with Top Stories and three pictures under that heading and the third one is

 

Cabin Fever on the Ruby Princess

Australian Weekend.image.jpeg.440d851247a04ebbf540ff0845ac6374.jpeg

1 Day ago

 

If I double click on it it opens up the entire article which is quite long. 

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37 minutes ago, Ondine said:

 

Ok so the link doesn't work.  However  when I google "Australian Newspaper Ruby Princess" it comes up with Top Stories and three pictures under that heading and the third one is

 

Cabin Fever on the Ruby Princess

Australian Weekend.image.jpeg.440d851247a04ebbf540ff0845ac6374.jpeg

1 Day ago

 

If I double click on it it opens up the entire article which is quite long. 


Thanks - that actually worked! Excellent. 
 

I'm part way through and already a couple of things come to me. I'll jot as I go or I will forget. 
 

The passengers in the article said they'd contacted Princess previously as they became concerned about how Covid was spreading but were reassured as Australians, that Ruby had only been to NZ and return. I wonder had Princess been upfront that 1000 passengers were not Australian/NZ'ers if passengers would still want to go. 

 

Second, Princess changed its deferment policy for an FCC as long as it was made 72 hours prior. Unfortunately for this cruise, that offer was hours too late. Princess should have extended that offer to any cruise sailing after that announcement. 

Edited by Pushka
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Unfortunately Princess phone reps don't always understand what is going on in the individual ships, and what the overall mix of bookings are. They may not know that an Aus/NZ cruise attracts lots of overseas passengers.

 

Yes, Princess probably should have extended that offer of any sailing but, again, they may not have thought there was an issue with that cruise.

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It was a fairly good article. As bit of a tear jerker though. However I liked the poignant comment from one guy who said he didn't know who he's caught the virus from and was devastated that he might have passed it on to other passengers.

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It was interesting that the passenger first started having symptoms on March 11, after boarding on March 8. That is only 3 days, so maybe he didn’t get the virus on the ship. It is possible that he had already been exposed before boarding. Like others here, I assumed that the virus was brought onto the ship by passengers from overseas, but maybe this was not the source. Very interesting article, and surprisingly not an attack on cruise ships.

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11 hours ago, OzKiwiJJ said:

Unfortunately Princess phone reps don't always understand what is going on in the individual ships, and what the overall mix of bookings are. They may not know that an Aus/NZ cruise attracts lots of overseas passengers.

 

Yes so true. And depending on the time of day, sometimes you are speaking to a representative in the US or sometimes you are speaking to an Australian. In my experience, no matter which organisation you call, even government ones, you get different answers to the same question.  

And I might add the go to for any travel queries is Smart Traveler not a cruise line or any other travel company. Of course Smart Traveler probably would have said it was safe too at that stage, so can you really blame Princess?

Edited by christodan
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8 hours ago, Relaxing Robbies said:

It was interesting that the passenger first started having symptoms on March 11, after boarding on March 8. That is only 3 days, so maybe he didn’t get the virus on the ship. It is possible that he had already been exposed before boarding. Like others here, I assumed that the virus was brought onto the ship by passengers from overseas, but maybe this was not the source. Very interesting article, and surprisingly not an attack on cruise ships.

It's possible he had two viruses. Firstly just a cold then he picked up Covid-19 on the ship. But 3 days is feasible for Covid-19 if he picked it up on the first day, maybe during that long wait for embarkation.

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17 hours ago, Pushka said:

The passengers in the article said they'd contacted Princess previously as they became concerned about how Covid was spreading but were reassured as Australians, that Ruby had only been to NZ and return. I wonder had Princess been upfront that 1000 passengers were not Australian/NZ'ers if passengers would still want to go. 

 Which is why NSW Health deemed the ship safe. If a health department got it wrong why would you expect a cruise company to get it right?

And It's naive to think that a call centre operator is going to know the ins and outs of a new virus  (in which knowledge about it was changing on a daily basis) as well as  the origin of the passengers (as OZkiwiJJ said).

As the saying goes "when in doubt, don't".

 

Personally, I would have still gone, but I would not have blamed anyone but myself if I caught the virus, because no one's holding a gun to your head. It was only a holiday not some important journey anyone had to take.

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17 minutes ago, christodan said:

 Which is why NSW Health deemed the ship safe. If a health department got it wrong why would you expect a cruise company to get it right?

And It's naive to think that a call centre operator is going to know the ins and outs of a new virus  (in which knowledge about it was changing on a daily basis) as well as  the origin of the passengers (as OZkiwiJJ said).

As the saying goes "when in doubt, don't".

 

Personally, I would have still gone, but I would not have blamed anyone but myself if I caught the virus, because no one's holding a gun to your head. It was only a holiday not some important journey anyone had to take.


Did Princess advise anyone (eg NSW Health) that their passenger mix comprised of so many international passengers and who were about to board? They certainly didn't advise the rest of the passengers that this was the case and the fact they stated that the cruise was "safe because it only went to Australia and NZ" rather confirms they knew that other countries, and therefore the citizens of those countries, represented a risk. 

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36 minutes ago, Pushka said:

Did Princess advise anyone (eg NSW Health) that their passenger mix comprised of so many international passengers and who were about to board?

I would say that is Border Forces job, not Princess cruises to notify NSW Health. Border force knows who is in the country and where OS passengers are going when they arrive. That is, arriving passengers are supposed to state to where they are staying when they arrive in Australia and a lot of them should have said that they are spending most of their time on a cruise ship. As Border Force should have had that knowledge, then they should have connected the dots and notified NSW Health and Princess cruises.

 

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46 minutes ago, Pushka said:


Did Princess advise anyone (eg NSW Health) that their passenger mix comprised of so many international passengers and who were about to board? They certainly didn't advise the rest of the passengers that this was the case and the fact they stated that the cruise was "safe because it only went to Australia and NZ" rather confirms they knew that other countries, and therefore the citizens of those countries, represented a risk. 

We have to remember that a passenger's passport does not always tell us where they are coming from. I have a British passport but am resident in Australia. Also I have frequently joined cruises after travelling in another country. Princess would have had limited knowledge of where its passengers were actually coming from (even where one actually made the booking from is not always obvious)

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In the days leading to March 8th, we were traveling in South Australia. We are not fond of crowds, so avoided the very crowded Adelaide Festival venues (a writers and an arts festival were also on at the same time.) We came across a couple of “orientation” walking tours for newly arrived Asians students, and gave them a wide berth. I remember asking someone if they were not worried about the influx of students from China arriving to start school, and the person replied that they were indeed worried, especially as I was informed then that several had rushed to Australia via Malaysia and Singapore, as to not be blocked (instead of arriving directly from China.) This was the first week of March, and I am certain that this was happening in all Australian cities that were welcoming their overseas students influx.

 

In retrospect, it’s easy to see how Australians, at home beforehand and however they made their way to Circular Quay on March 8th, could have been infected - on a bus/train/tram, attending a show or game, having a socially active uni student at home - by whatever activity or person that would have infected them before joining that fateful line-up on that day. Ditto for anyone else who had travelled from outside Australia to board on March 8th, with many having arrived to start their holiday earlier as well.
 

We certainly did not know in early March that people can be highly infectious for a few days before symptoms would appear, that asymptomatic persons could shed the virus and that young people could be vectors without knowing it, and, most importantly, that the presenting symptoms could be far more varied that just a cough + fever (which for most of March was still the “golden standard” for a presumptive diagnosis and testing.)

 

The article was fair, and the thought processes explained by the people that she interviewed were very much reflective of what people discussed with us during our Australian trip - well into the month of March. Personally, I think that it was indeed the Ruby Princess that finally was the turning point in people’s understanding of just how devastating to Australia Covid-19 was going to be.
 

We were finally able to return to Canada on April 1st, after a great deal of difficulty with our several sequential sets of airline tickets. It was only on March 15th that we finally realized that we needed to try to get home, and leave Australia. We were in the Northern Territory by then. After much indecision and frustrations (repeatedly cancelled & re-purchased flights), we decided to hunker down in Darwin until we could go home.


We have nothing but praise for all the kind Australians that we met.
 

Note: We had disembarked from the Azamara Journey in Sydney on Feb. 23rd (arriving from a 30-day b2b from Tahiti and NZ.) For a “milestone-birthdays-bucket-list-once-in-a-lifetime” trip, this one was memorable.

Edited by snowglobe
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I do understand that Australia blocked arrivals from China very early, by Feb 1, so those arriving after that would have been deemed safe after quarantine elsewhere from a country that wasnt declared unsafe. Unfortunately by then it wasnt tourists/students from Asia bringing the virus into Australia but rather people from Europe, UK and USA where testing wasnt as rigorous as it was from China.

 

Australia and South Australia had rigorous testing from January, and any outbreaks were identified and traced very early on and which is a key reason that Australia has not been devastated to the same extent as pretty much elsewhere in the western world. Australia wide we have had less than 100 deaths. I'd dare say for people living in Australia up to mid March we were safer than anywhere else in the world at that time and likely still are. 

 

Most of Australias infections have been identified genetically as coming from Italy, Europe and USA.

 

In reality the students didnt bring the infection to Australia.  Tourists did. And not from Asia. 

 

 

Edited by Pushka
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14 minutes ago, Pushka said:

Most of Australias infections have been identified genetically as coming from Italy, Europe and USA  and not Asia.


Thank you for that clarification.

 

The point still stands that, just as an overseas passenger or arriving crew member could have brought in onboard, it could just as easily have been an Australian who had been infected at home or in transit to board.

 

I do not doubt that, in that first week of March, community transmission in several Australian cities was already occurring far more widely than initially thought. We will never really know, especially considering how many “mild” cases would have been missed in the early days.

Edited by snowglobe
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5 hours ago, Pushka said:


Did Princess advise anyone (eg NSW Health) that their passenger mix comprised of so many international passengers and who were about to board? They certainly didn't advise the rest of the passengers that this was the case and the fact they stated that the cruise was "safe because it only went to Australia and NZ" rather confirms they knew that other countries, and therefore the citizens of those countries, represented a risk. 

 

Given the Australion government was only refusing Chinese, Italian and a few other countries to enter Australia, and everyone else was fine, why would you think that the cruise ship operator would have concerns about others that the government doesn't?

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1 hour ago, The_Big_M said:

 

Given the Australion government was only refusing Chinese, Italian and a few other countries to enter Australia, and everyone else was fine, why would you think that the cruise ship operator would have concerns about others that the government doesn't?


Based solely, when questioned by concerned passengers, on their reassurances that the cruise had only completed Australia - New Zealand cruises, it has the implication that only Australian and NZers were on the ship. 

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3 hours ago, Pushka said:


Based solely, when questioned by concerned passengers, on their reassurances that the cruise had only completed Australia - New Zealand cruises, it has the implication that only Australian and NZers were on the ship. 

 

I don't get that implication from that statement, any more than thinking that there are only Australian and NZers on Australia and NZ. 

 

I.e. they're saying that they haven't gone to widely affected areas so it isn't lingering onboard from that area, but of course it's possible to meet a non-AU/NZ on the ship just as you could on land.

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1 hour ago, The_Big_M said:

 

I don't get that implication from that statement, any more than thinking that there are only Australian and NZers on Australia and NZ. 

 

I.e. they're saying that they haven't gone to widely affected areas so it isn't lingering onboard from that area, but of course it's possible to meet a non-AU/NZ on the ship just as you could on land.


So in reality a meaningless reassurance. People spread the virus not surfaces so much. 

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