Weather call for cruiser

WEATHER will determine whether a cruise ship due in Fremantle yesterday with a handful of Covid cases aboard will still be here today (Saturday October 29), when crowds are expected to fill Victoria Quay for Fremantle Ports’ Maritime Day.

The Coral Princess is on a month-long circumnavigation of Australia, but some passengers picked up a dose of the virus when it docked in Broome on Monday.

They’ve been required to isolate for five days under new rules designed to allow cruising to restart, meaning those first diagnosed sailing out of Broome won’t see much daylight before they reach Albany on Sunday. Other passengers will be RAT tested for Covid before being allowed to disembark in Fremantle.

The Coral Princess was due to sail on Friday evening, but a weather event in southern waters has operator Carnival Cruises wondering whether to stay an extra day in Fremantle.

Fremantle Ports PR manager Neil Stanbury said whether the cruiser stays or goes before the Maritime Day, the Passenger Terminal will get regular, thorough cleaning.

A sink hole that opened up under B Shed in August forced Ports to move the annual celebration, which Mr Stanbury expects to attract 5000-7000 people, to the terminal.

If the cruiser has left, the frigate HMAS Toowoomba, a Svitzer tug, a bunkering vessel and some smaller vessels including one offering harbour tours will take its place next to the terminal.

“Landside, we’re running a free shuttle bus from outside E Shed to the Passenger Terminal every half an hour, back and forth,” Mr Stanbury said. The day runs from 10am – 4pm.

In mid-July, 110 vaccinated crew members and a few passengers aboard the Coral Princess tested positive for Covid when docked in Eden, NSW, but the incident passed with little drama, prompting the industry to argue it was able to effectively manage Covid – just not completely eliminate it.

by STEVE GRANT

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