The cruise ship at the centre of a dual Covid-19 and gastro scare will undergo another round of disinfection before it disembarks from Adelaide to Melbourne.
The Grand Princess docked in Port Adelaide with less than 10 sick passengers on the second day of a four-day round trip from Victoria.
In a statement from Princess Cruises, the operator said the passengers who arrived in Adelaide on Monday morning were largely not affected by the dual outbreak, which occurred on the previous voyage.
“On the previous voyage (a 14-day round trip cruise from Melbourne to Queensland) a number of people reported to the medical centre with symptoms of respiratory illness and acute gastrointestinal illness,” it said.
“While most guests were unaffected by illness on that voyage, we proactively launched a comprehensive disinfection program, developed in co-ordination with international health authorities, to prevent further spread.”
“In an abundance of caution, there will be another disinfection program carried out on-board the ship in Adelaide today before the Grand Princess returns to Melbourne on Wednesday, 15 November.”
SA Health confirmed it had been in contact with the ship’s doctor, who reported “the outbreaks have been declared over”.
“The few remaining cases (of illness) are consistent with numbers you would expect on any cruise,” SA Heath said.
“The ship docked in Melbourne on Saturday to undergo a clean, with all passengers off while this was undertaken.”
As the health scare abates, stories have come out from passengers aboard the affected 14-day voyage about how their holidays were ruined by the virus flare-up.
“They didn’t tell us straightaway,” one passenger told the Today show.
“We had a man two doors down from us who had Covid and gastro, and we didn’t know about it and you could smell it down the hallway.”
Passengers said the laundry was closed temporarily over fears it turned into an infection “hotspot”, while the on-board medical centre was bombarded.
Affected passengers were also confined to their rooms and provided room service, while unaffected guests were given $25 vouchers to spend at stopovers to encourage them to leave the ship as it was deep cleaned.
On Monday morning, SA Premier Peter Malinauskas reiterated that the majority of illnesses happened before the cruise ship arrived in Melbourne.
“When that cruise ship got to Melbourne, the passengers disembarked and then there was a thorough deep clean undertaken before passengers were reloaded again,” he said.
“Essentially, people who got back onto that cruise ship were effectively new passengers,” he told ABC Radio Adelaide.
Earlier in the day, Mr Malinauskas said “the good news from the cruise ship is the number of cases presenting has dramatically decreased over the course of the last couple of days”.
“But, geez, I do feel for those people on-board. Imagine having both of them at the same time, that wouldn’t be much fun at all,” he said.
Passenger Maureen Monk painted a dire picture of the previous journey and told the ABC a lack of communication had created an “unsafe environment” for the 2600 passengers on-board.
“The communication was not there at all, none of the guests really knew what was going on,” she said.
“The first two days there was nothing in place … we took it upon ourselves to sanitise, which a lot of people weren’t doing.
“There was a cabin across from me that was served breakfast, lunch and dinner for 10 days … speaking to other guests it was quite common that the person they were travelling with was confined or just coming out of confinement or sick.”
Although the affected voyage ended two days ago, neither SA Health or Princess Cruises have confirmed the exact number of patients with Covid or gastro who were on-board.
The holiday health scare also comes as SA battles through another Covid wave.
On Friday, SA Health reported 33 patients were in hospital with the virus, including three in intensive care.