Update: An official statement from Princess Cruises says that Dawn Princess will depart overnight from Sydney, and the itinerary of its scheduled 15-night South Pacific cruise will not be impacted. Princess has rebooked the flights of passengers on the previous cruise who had made their air arrangements through Princess and missed their onward flights due to the disembarkation delay. The company also assisted guests looking to book accommodations in Sydney. No additional compensation will be given to passengers whose travel plans were affected by the swine flu scare.
Princess Cruises' Dawn Princess' Saturday embarkation and debarkation in Sydney, Australia, were delayed for hours as a result of a swine flu scare. Several passengers had exhibited flu-like symptoms, but ultimately all passengers tested negative for swine flu.
According to reports from Australian publications like the Brisbane Times and Herald Sun, Dawn Princess arrived in Sydney Harbour at noon on Saturday. Health officials quarantined the ship before passengers could debark, stranding almost 2,000 passengers and 900 crew onboard, with another 2,000 passengers waiting in the terminal to embark. Dawn Princess had just completed a 35-night cruise in the Pacific Ocean.
The ship's quarantine was due to two passengers who had recently recovered from influenza type A. Tests on four passengers by public health officials ultimately came up negative for swine flu, but while the results were unknown, no one onboard was allowed to debark. In addition, a body was removed from the ship, and one passenger was rushed to the hospital, but neither of these cases was related to swine flu. The death was caused by heart problems, and the passenger taken to the hospital did not have a respiratory ailment.
Finally, the first passengers left the ship at 6 p.m., but all were told to remain in the Sydney area overnight and to avoid unnecessary contact with other people as a precaution. Guests on the upcoming cruise were expected to begin embarkation around 10 p.m.; the ship was originally scheduled to depart at 4 p.m.
A spokesperson for Princess Cruises has not yet returned our requests for information about arrangements for Dawn Princess guests who missed their flights home or how the ship's next itinerary will be impacted by the delay.
Stay tuned for more information.
--by Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor
Update: Swine Flu Scare Delays Princess Cruise Ship in Australia
May 23, 2009