WA Premier Mark McGowan is currently "exercising the Rottnest option" to quarantine Australian cruise passengers set to disembark in Fremantle (Perth, Western Australia), as a couple of other ships have been prevented from docking.
Australians onboard CMV Vasco da Gama due to arrive at the port of Fremantle on Friday, March 27, will be taken to the holiday island off the coast of Perth and required to self-isolate for 2 weeks. Vasco da Gama is now carrying 950 passengers and 550 crew members. There are 800 Australians onboard, including 200 West Australians. 3 Rottnest ferry companies will transport the Australian passengers to the island in groups.
Mr. McGowan said that two other ships, Artania and MSC Magnifica, had been prevented from docking at the port of Fremantle and told to anchor offshore, with illness reported aboard Artania. He said the two ships needed to leave and go home.
According to the Government, there were 109 New Zealanders on Vasco da Gama. The remaining travellers were from other countries, including 33 from the UK. McGowan said passengers "will not be allowed to disembark at any time unless it is to travel under strict supervision directly to the airport, or they need urgent medical attention to survive."
Those who need to travel home to New Zealand will remain on the ship. A plan is being worked up with the Government of NZ to get those cruise passengers back home "as safely as possible."
The operator of Vasco de Gama, Cruise and Maritime Voyages, said it had received no warning of the decision of the WA Government. CMV Australia managing director Dean Brazier revealed they were disappointed that the WA Premier had not informed them of the decision before sharing the news with the public and that they were unable to inform their passengers before it had appeared in media reports. There were no reported health issues onboard the ship and passengers would have been at sea for almost 2 weeks straight when they arrived in the port of Fremantle.
WA authorities provided assistance to Artania after she approached Fremantle port to refuel but was told to anchor off the coast. According to the Premier, about 25 passengers and crew members onboard were reporting respiratory symptoms. McGowan said one passenger who was no longer onboard the ship had tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19) after disembarking.
The Premier said last night the vessel had "requested assistance with health assessments and COVID-19 testing". Health Department officials were currently onboard providing medical checks and testing. There were over 800 passengers and 500 crew members onboard but none of the guests was Australian.
MSC Magnifica left Fremantle on Tuesday carrying mainly Europeans after making a refuelling stop en route to Dubai. However, overnight the Dubai Government said the cruise ship would not be allowed to dock in the country, thus forcing Magnifica to sail back to WA.
For Coronavirus updates on cruise ship quarantines (infected passengers and crew) and top-pandemic countries (COVID-19 cases and deaths, daily updated statistics) see at CruiseMapper's Norovirus page.