Kangaroo Island may or may not have dodged a coronavirus bullet from cruise ship, tourism

The Sun Princess was last cruise ship to visit Kangaroo Island and coincidentally the first to visit after the bushfires.
The Sun Princess was last cruise ship to visit Kangaroo Island and coincidentally the first to visit after the bushfires.

Kangaroo Island may have just dodged a coronavirus bullet from cruise ships that visited as recently as March 16.

Carnival Australia says there were no health concerns for the 2000-passenger Sun Princess, the last cruise ship to visit KI and coincidentally the first to visit after the bushfires.

"There is no reason for concern," Carnival spokesman David Jones said. "The onboard team fondly remembers Sun Princess being the first cruise ship to return to Kangaroo Island following the summer bushfires and the boost that this gave to local commercial activity."

The Sun Princess was the last cruise ship to visit Kangaroo Island on March 16.

The Sun Princess was the last cruise ship to visit Kangaroo Island on March 16.

Meanwhile there is still no formal restrictions on tourism and non-essential travel onto Kangaroo Island.

There are disturbing reports visitation was being encouraged by certain businesses as recently as last week.

Tourism venues such as Seal Bay and National Park campgrounds remain open, with reports that alternate camping spots are being blocked out for social distancing.

Social distancing rules also apply at Seal Bay such as reducing the size of tour groups and limiting crowds in visitor centre.

Many on the Island are asking why the State and Federal governments are not doing more to limit travel and tourism on the Island.

The pattern seems to being echoed across Australia with nonsensical and potentially dangerous decisions to leave services such as hairdressing open and allow queues at Centrelink offices.

Parents around SA remain confused about mixed messages on schools with many parents on KI following local doctors' pleas to keep children at home. Attendance at KI's school is 35 per cent.

Rural doctors are calling on grey nomads across Australia to return home or, better yet, stay home if they are still there, to protect themselves and rural Australia.

President of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia, Dr John Hall, said that reports of grey nomads still roaming throughout the bush were disturbing.

"We have had reports of convoys of grey nomads moving out into rural communities and quite frankly, that's not acceptable," Dr Hall said.

KI cruise ship schedule showing the Sun Princess as the last visit on March 16.

KI cruise ship schedule showing the Sun Princess as the last visit on March 16.

The Sun Princess meanwhile moored at Penneshaw on Monday, March 16 with more than 2000 passengers, most of whom would have disembarked and toured the Island.

Thankfully the ship's operators Carnival Australia has now informed The Islander there are no health concerns relating to the Sun Princess and her final voyage to KI.

"Regarding Sun Princess and its health status, the answer is no," Carnival Australia's David Jones said. "There is no reason for concern.

"The onboard team fondly remembers Sun Princess being the first cruise ship to return to Kangaroo Island following the summer bushfires and the boost that this gave to local commercial activity."

The day before the Sun Princess visit, the Seabourne Encore had been due to visit and there is an online report from a passenger that there were no coronavirus cases when it docked at Adelaide.

There were a total of nine cruise ships that visited Kangaroo Island in February and March.

Disturbingly, the South Australian Tourism Commission as recently as March 2 was promoting even greater visitation to KI as a "positive" from coronavirus, even though the health dangers of the Diamond Princess and other ships were known at the time.

"You've likely heard that one piece of positive news to come out of the coronavirus crisis is the additional ships it is bringing to South Australia - to KI - as a result of cruise lines repositioning. In fact, we've had an extra four ships schedule visits to Kangaroo Island and the 19/20 cruise season will now run to late May, an extension of nearly two months," an SATC email to The Islander read.

The SATC responded to The Islander with the following statement:

"The SATC has been very proactive in addressing and managing cruise visitation into South Australian ports with regard to the COVID-19.

Although repositioning of cruise lines initially saw an increase in scheduled visits to South Australian ports, the evolving impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak then saw a reduction in scheduled cruise ship visits to 63.

The Australian Federal Government announced a 30-day restriction on March 15 on all international cruise ship visits into Australia and the SATC moved quickly to suspend all Cruise Ship Meet and Greet Services in all South Australian ports, coinciding with the early closure of the cruise ship season in South Australia.

The SATC has put the safety and well-being of all South Australians, as well as visiting passenger and crew, as the top priority throughout this quickly evolving situation.

The SATC, in partnership with Flinders Ports, Australian Border Force and Federal and State health authorities, worked to ensure that all recent cruise ship arrivals to South Australia, including all rescheduled cruise ships to Kangaroo Island, complied with legislated and recommended health screening measures and has been absolutely proactive in this."

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