Cruise ship with 800 Covid-19 patients arrives in Sydney, Australia

The Majestic Princess ship docked  at Circular Quay, Sydney on Saturday  (Getty Images)
The Majestic Princess ship docked at Circular Quay, Sydney on Saturday (Getty Images)

A holiday cruise ship carrying around 800 passengers who have Covid-19 has docked in Sydney, Australia.

About 4,600 passengers and crew were aboard the Majestic Princess from New Zealand when it arrived on Saturday (12 November), with around 1 in 5 of those onboard contracted the virus.

Marguerite Fitzgerald, president of cruise operator Carnival Australia, said cases began to rise about halfway through the 12-day voyage.

All cases were either asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, and guests who tested positive were assisted by staff “with accessing private transport and accommodation to complete their isolation period,” she told the BBC.

The cruise operator added that infected patients had been isolating and every passenger had been given a rapid antigen test in the 24 hours before arrival.

Nearly one in four guests tested positive for Covid-19 before the cruise ship docked at Sydney's Circular Quay early on Saturday morning (Getty Images)
Nearly one in four guests tested positive for Covid-19 before the cruise ship docked at Sydney's Circular Quay early on Saturday morning (Getty Images)

Guests who tested positive and chose to stay on the ship were required to isolate for at least five days.

The outbreak is like that of the Ruby Princess cruise ship in early 2020, where 914 people onboard tested positive for Covid-19 and 28 people died.

When asked about comparisons between the Majestic Princess and the Ruby Princess - which belonged to the same operator - Ms Fitzgerald said: “That is nearly three years ago and, since then, we as a community have learned a lot, a lot more about Covid.”

“We’ve learned what works to help mitigate transmission, we’ve learnt how to keep our vulnerable people safe and it is no different in the cruise industry.”

One disembarking passenger told ABC that the ship’s crew had handled the outbreak well.

“It was scary because we heard about it, but of course we tested negative, and the Majestic Princess were really good with the protocols. [We] wore masks for these last seven days and we were very careful when we went ashore.”

The ship will soon depart for Melbourne, Australia.

The outbreak comes as Covid cases rise across Australia, with 19,800 new cases detected in New South Wales in one week.