Guests booked aboard the November 11, 2023 departure of Princess Cruises’ Grand Princess from Melbourne, Australia have been notified that the ship will be undergoing comprehensive disinfection due to gastrointestinal illness, which is delaying embarkation.
While the cruise will still depart on Saturday, that departure is delayed by several hours to ensure the ship is thoroughly cleaned and ready to welcome guests aboard while minimizing any risk of additional infections.
Guests booked aboard Grand Princess for the ship’s 4-night “Southern Australia Seacation” sailing departing on Saturday, November 11, have been notified that their embarkation will be delayed.
“Please be advised that embarkation for your Grand Princess cruise has been delayed. During the current cruise there were elevated case counts of gastrointestinal illness among guests,” the notification explained. “A comprehensive disinfection program was launched in response, and Grand Princess will undergo an additional disinfection in Melbourne on Saturday.”
Because of the additional disinfection, check-in for guests embarking on Saturday will be delayed until 3:30 p.m., and the cruise line notes that the terminal will also be closed for disinfection before that time, which should help prevent cross-contamination between sailings.
Any travelers with hotel arrangements or airport transfers arranged through Princess Cruises will have their cruise check-in times provided at the hotel or airport as appropriate, and all guests must be onboard by 7 p.m.
Staterooms will be available to passengers soon after embarkation, which will help minimize typical first-day crowds in public areas.
The delay in embarkation should not impact the ship’s itinerary in any way. The 4-night cruise will begin with a day at sea, then enjoy a visit to Adelaide, which will be followed by another day at sea before returning to Melbourne on Wednesday, November 15.
Exact numbers of guests reporting gastrointestinal illness symptoms – nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, etc. – have not been disclosed, nor has any specific illness strain been confirmed. Similarly, no details on whether or not crew members have reported symptoms have been disclosed.
These types of symptoms are very common with norovirus and several other easily communicable diseases that are often spread through contaminated surfaces such as stair railings, elevator buttons, serving utensils, and door handles.
Additional onboard cleaning measures such as more frequent sanitizing or switching to different cleaning chemicals can be effective in helping minimize the spread of such illnesses. Other onboard measures might include changing self-serve food and beverage stations to server stations, propping doors open so handles do not need to be used, or changing activities to eliminate more surface contact.
More vigorous cleaning measures are being taken not only on the infected sailing, but will likely also continue into the next cruise as an added precaution.
Once the ship returns to Melbourne, even stronger cleaning measures can be implemented while guests are off the ship. This could include fogging-style disinfectants or harsher cleaning solutions that may need to be aired out after use.
Travelers should always take steps to protect themselves from onboard illnesses, such as frequent handwashing or use of hand sanitizer and avoiding high-touch surfaces as much as possible.
It should be noted that the symptoms of “gastrointestinal illness” are not a common symptom of COVID-19, and there is no suggestion that any other disease has been detected onboard.
The 107,517-gross-ton, Grand-class Grand Princess is currently homeported from Melbourne, Australia, offering a range of different itineraries that include top ports of call in Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tasmania, depending on sailing date and itinerary length. In April 2024, the ship will make a transpacific cruise to Vancouver to begin her Alaska sailing season.
The ship can welcome 2,590 guests at double occupancy, or as many as 3,100 passengers when fully booked. Also on board are approximately 1,100 international crew members to deliver truly grand service on every sailing.
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