AFTER over a month of waiting to get off cruise ship Ruby Princess in Sydney, Corofin musician Killian Shannon was allowed to disembark on Tuesday, and he is expected home in the coming days.
Almost 2,700 passengers were allowed leave the ship in March, some of them quite ill, and the ship has been identified as one of the biggest sources of infection in Australia.
More than 20 people who had been on board it have now perished due to Covid-19.
The ship arrived into Sydney on March 19, and Killian was one of the crew members who tested positive for the disease while on board.
He spent weeks in strict quarantine on the ship, and when he finally managed to get back on dry land on Tuesday, he was elated. “Oh my God! Absolutely over the moon! It all happened very, very quickly, we were only told very late on to keep it away from the media. If it had got out there might have been protestors there. As much as most Australian people came around to our side, there were people who were hurt by the whole scandal of what happened. People had died who were on the Ruby Princess. There’s a big blame game going on, because it’s such a big floating target a lot of people are choosing to blame the ship and everyone on it.”
Killian is part of a band called Emerald Tide who were providing entertainment to passengers, and it was actually his first time working on a cruise.
When it first became apparent that Covid-19 was a problem on the ship, shortly after the passengers got off, he still wasn’t sure what would happen. “We docked in Sydney on the March 19 and got the passengers off the ship. A day later there was a news report that I heard from a friend, that the ship was now Covid positive, which was obviously really bad news. We didn’t know exactly what it meant at that stage but we knew we were in for a rough ride and nobody would be getting off any time soon. We were brought into a meeting and told ye need to start social distancing right now and anyone who shows symptoms is to report straight to medical. After that we were given guidelines on the measures to be taken, there were temperature checks twice daily. It just so happened at that stage I had a slightly scratchy throat and I said I better report this. That evening I was put into quarantine in one of the guest cabins and I was there until this morning (Tuesday).”
He was diagnosed with the disease while on board but didn’t suffer too much. “Fortunately I didn’t suffer any major symptoms, the only things that I did suffer were a slightly scratchy throat and a loss of smell. It turns out a lot of people on board were suffering the same thing, most people I talked to that had gone down had lost their sense of smell, which at that stage wasn’t considered an official symptom.”
The quarantine was getting more intense as time was going by. “At the start we got four visits a day, minimum, we got three meals and we got our temperature checks. As the doctors got busier, they had to cut it to one temperature check a day. As well as the four visits, before the big lockdown happened, we were getting bonus things through the door. We were allowed order things through the cruise shop, we were allowed order alcohol on specific days. As soon as the full lockdown came into effect there was nothing more from the shop, no more alcohol, no jobs that weren’t 100% necessary.”
Online abuse is a sad global reality of modern life, and the trolling that went on was very upsetting for Killian and those on board. “The whole scandal of what had happened on the ship led to the media in Australia being very, very hard on us for the first couple of weeks. We were reading articles and seeing videos on YouTube and seeing some very horrible comments. Obviously it wasn’t going to happen but they were saying sink the ship, torpedo it with everybody on board. That kind of stuff, when you have too much time to think, you shouldn’t be reading that kind of thing. There were days when you were missing home, praying you wouldn’t get bad news from home. Luckily no one in my immediate group of friends got any bad news from home. ”