Large number of Covid cases on Ruby Princess

Princess Cruises ship Ruby Princess (IMO 9378462) has drawn the attention of health authorities and the media after reports of several the ship’s recent cruises generating a number of positive tests for Covid-19.

The Washington Post noted that about half of all the cruise ships currently reporting to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had recently had cases of the virus on board, but the Ruby Princess has had a total of 253 cases in the past five weeks.

The 113,560 gross ton cruise ship docked in San Francisco on April 23 with a report of 35 cases on its last cruise, which was to Alaska, the San Francisco Department of Public Health told the newspaper.

Previously, the ship had reported 143 positive tests when it returned in early April from a two-week cruise to Hawaii. Prior to that the ship arrived in San Francisco at the end of March with 73 positive cases, also according to the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

The Ruby Princess is currently running cruises from San Francisco to Alaska and set sail for its latest holiday on April 30th.

The Ruby Princess was unfortunate enough to become a headliner right at the start of the first wave of Covid-19 internationally. The ship returned to Sydney at the end of a cruise and passengers were permitted to disembark, even though there were 170 cases of the virus aboard the ship.

Health authorities ultimately traced nearly 800 cases in Australia that they associated with the cruise ship passengers, crew, or people who came in close contact with the passengers when they returned home.

An Australian investigation concluded that errors had been made in the handling of the ship, placing most of the blame on the public health agencies in New South Wales and some lack of reporting by Carnival Australia. Princess Cruises and the captain were broadly exonerated of wrongdoing.

Princess Cruises and all of its parent company Carnival Corporation are voluntarily participating in the CDC’s current tracking programme.

The CDC’s website has said that the Ruby Princess was in the “highly vaccinated” category, with at least 95% of passengers and crew fully vaccinated, but less than 95% are up to date with their Covid-19 vaccines, meaning that they have not all had booster shots.

The cruise ship has a passenger capacity of 3,080 people, with an additional 1,200 crew when it is operating at capacity, although it was unclear how many passengers and crew were aboard the ship on these cruises. Even if they were at capacity the number of cases would represent some 3% of the population, enough to place the ship under observation by the CDC.

Currently, the CDC lists 98 cruise ships participating in its programme, of which 56 are under observation, and an additional 20 had recently reported Covid-19 cases. Only 21 were currently “green” with no recent cases of the virus.

Five of Princess’s ships, Caribbean, Discovery, Grand, Majestic, and Ruby Princess, are all currently reflected as having a status of orange, which meant that they were being monitored after recently reporting cases.

Princess Cruises in a statement about the cases aboard its cruise ships said that “the protocols that have been established work,” citing that it uses testing to identify passengers or crew. Passengers testing positive or reporting symptoms were placed into quarantine cabins isolated from the other passengers on the cruise. The cruise line noted that most passengers are asymptomatic.

2008-built, Bermuda-flagged, 113,561 gt Ruby Princess is owned and managed by Princess Cruise Lines. It is entered with Steamship Mutual and with UK Club.