“An opportunity for all to learn”: Princess Cruises boss responds to NSW government inquiry

“An opportunity for all to learn”: Princess Cruises boss responds to NSW government inquiry

Princess Cruises’ president has responded to the NSW government’s special commission of inquiry into Ruby Princess, saying it will be “an opportunity for all to learn”.

On Wednesday, NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the state government would launch the inquiry headed by barrister Bret Walker SC, who is known for his successful appeal against George Pell’s conviction in the High Court.

The inquiry will run alongside the NSW Police’s criminal investigation into the ship that was launched last week.

Princess Cruises said in a statement it expressed its “deep sadness” over the impact of COVID-19, and that the cruise line intends to assist the commission of inquiry in its efforts to “establish the truth of what happened in relation to Ruby Princess“.

Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises, said the line would willingly participate with all three government-instigated inquiries – the commission of inquiry, police investigation and coronial inquiry.

“This commission of inquiry is an opportunity for all to learn from this tragic event,” Swartz said.

“There are no doubt important lessons to be learned as we seek to understand how the virus works and continue to adapt to a world with COVID-19.”

Swartz said what happened on Ruby Princess was a reflection of what was happening in the world at the time.

“Even at the time the ship left Sydney, international flights were coming to Australia, the borders were still open and major sporting events were still being played to packed stadiums,” she said.

“This was an unprecedented global situation and everyone involved was no doubt making the best decisions they could at the time.”

Ruby Princess disembarked 2,700 passengers at Sydney Harbour on 19 March despite some showing symptoms of COVID-19. Since then, 18 passengers have died and more than 600 people have been diagnosed with the virus.

Both the police investigation and the government inquiry aim to find out the circumstances around the ship’s disembarkation in Sydney Harbour and find out if Carnival, the company which owns Princess Cruises, followed state and biosecurity laws in relation to COVID-19.

“I want to acknowledge the many decent people involved at this operational level who remain committed to the care and wellbeing of our crew, including those who were seriously ill,” Swartz said.

“This will be a difficult period for all involved but we have a shared responsibility, along with all of society, to learn from these events.”

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