Covid concerns re-emerge in Antipodes as cruise ships arrive

The first cruise ship for 30 months to disembark passengers in Wellington, New Zealand, has turned out to have passengers suffering from Covid-19 on board. Bespoke cruise ship Le Laperouse (IMO 9814026) arrived in Wellington on March 16th 2020, but the cruise was abruptly ended.

On March 19th 2020 New Zealand closed its borders to all except New Zealand citizens and permanent residents.

Now, more than 950 days since Le Laperouse arrived, last Tuesday October 25th the Ovation Of The Seas (IMO 9697753) became the first cruise ship back into Wellington.

However a spokesperson for Wellington Port operator CentrePort said that health authorities had confirmed that there had been confirmed cases of Covid-19 on board.

The ship was carrying about 4,500 crew and passengers.

Te Whatu Ora Te Matau a Māui, the former Hawke’s Bay District Health Board, said that the ship met its requirements for passengers to disembark into Napier – where it first arrived on Monday.

The ship had been in Vancouver, Seattle, Hawaii, French Polynesia and Napier before getting to Wellington. It left for Picton on Tuesday evening, en route to Sydney, new South Wales, Australia.

Malaghan Institute executive director Dr Graham Le Gros said that, given the ship had been in the US before New Zealand, there was a reasonable chance that the Covid on board was the BA.2.75.2 strain.

“We are watching America very closely to see if we see more hospitalisations,” Le Gros said.

Public health constraints, such as stronger isolation requirements, could be needed if the strain became widespread in New Zealand, he said.

2018-built, France-flagged, 9.976 gt Le Laperouse is owned by Caroline 68 care of manager Ponant of Marseille, France. It is entered with Steamship Mutual (European Syndicate) on behalf of SAS Caroline 68. As of October 29th it was stopped off the Vietnamese port of Da Nang.

2016-built, Bahamas-flagged, 168,666 gt Ovation Of The Seas is owned by Ovation Of The Seas Inc care of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd of Miami, Florida, USA. ISM manager is RCL Cruises Ltd of Weybridge, UK. It is entered with UK Club on behalf of RCL Cruises Ltd). As of October 29th it was underway off Sydney, NSW, heading for Milford Sound, New Zealand, ETA November 1st.