15 July 2022

COVID-19 outbreak on first cruise to visit Eden in two years but cruise season still welcomed

| Albert McKnight
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Cruise ship at harbour

The Coral Princess arrived in Eden on Tuesday. Photo: Cruise Eden Facebook.

The first cruise ship to visit the NSW town of Eden in over two years was hit with a COVID-19 outbreak before it docked.

Despite the unlucky start, the return of the cruise season and ensuing injection into the region’s economy of up to $20 million, has been welcomed to the town.

The Coral Princess arrived in the port town on Tuesday (12 July) morning, after which an estimated 1200 passengers disembarked to see the sights.

On the same day, Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard said 114 crew and four passengers on board the cruise ship were COVID-19 positive.

A spokesperson for NSW Health said the department had been liaising with the Coral Princess to monitor the health of its passengers and crew members.

“While a small number of passengers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since boarding the Coral Princess, their infections were most likely acquired prior to boarding and they subsequently tested positive,” the spokesperson said on Tuesday.

“All COVID-positive people are isolating and being cared for by the onboard medical team.”

READ ALSO Eden Welcome Centre opens as cruise ships plan their Sapphire Coast return

Bega Valley Shire Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick said he was aware there were concerns in the community about the COVID cases onboard. Still, he reassured locals that crew members who tested positive had isolated and passengers had to deliver a negative rapid antigen test (RAT) before visiting the town.

When asked about the Coral Princess arriving in the town during a 2GB radio interview, Member for Eden-Monaro Kristy McBain said “we do have to learn to live with COVID”. She thought many locals would take extra precautions when cruise ships arrived.

“…[T]here are a lot of businesses, and definitely a community, that is happy to welcome people and those who are more sceptical will take those added precautions,” she said.

Cruise Eden coordinator Debbie Meers said she knew many people were very comfortable with the protocols put in place by NSW Health.

For instance, passengers on the shore tours have been asked to wear masks when on transport or in other public indoor spaces, physically distance wherever possible and to use hand sanitiser regularly.

“COVID is everywhere; it was never expected that ships could have no COVID on them, same with anywhere else,” Ms Meers said.

Cruise ship voyages to Eden had been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic over two years ago.

But the industry has started again and according to a recent schedule by Cruise Eden, cruise ships are planning 36 more visits to Eden until March 2023. An estimated 72,000 mostly-domestic passengers could visit the town, plus crew.

Ms Meers said it was estimated that over the season, passengers could inject an extra $20 million into the local community from their spending.

READ ALSO Revised Eden Port proposal to welcome world’s largest cruise ships

She also said the economic uplift wasn’t restricted to the town and there would be a flow-on effect to the wider Sapphire Coast.

“I think the economic boost is going to be huge,” she said.

“It’s been a really tough and long two years; we’re so excited the cruises are back.”

Mr Fitzpatrick also said the cruise ships would be an excellent boost to local businesses and the economy.

“I think they [local businesses] are all excited about it,” he said.

Ms Meers said when the Coral Princess arrived on Tuesday, the town was abuzz and “the passengers were welcomed with open arms” by the community.

“We are grateful and excited our port is back in action and we are looking forward to a fantastic season,” she said.

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Doesn’t this give rise to thoughts about the disaster that cruising is in itself? So this corporate giant brings this environmental disaster to Eden, and then the locals have to worry about taking extra precautions (“She thought many locals would take extra precautions when cruise ships arrived”).
Do you know what these guys do with their exhaust scrubber gases? Dump them into the ocean. The black trail they leave behind contains oils and cancer causing PAH’s. So all this for 20 million bucks, but with part destruction of the environment?? Do you think these guys care where it goes? Do you know where most of the money in cruising goes? To billionaires, not the local environment, and not to local businesses. They get the passengers to spend more on the cruise ship between ports than what they do at ports.

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