PRINCESS Cruises president Jan Swartz has applauded the crew of Ruby Princess for their “strength and fortitude” as the ship prepares to depart Port Kembla.

Ms Swartz also thanked the Illawarra community for supporting the crew.

“The nightly applause ceremony in which the crew clapped all of the people who supported and cared for them during this difficult time was a wonderful expression of goodwill that was reciprocated by the community,” Ms Swartz said. 

“So thank you to the crew of Ruby Princess and to the local community for its embrace of the crew with the delivery of care packages and handwritten messages of support from so many people.”

Princess Cruises has announced a contribution of $50,000 to support the outreach to seafarers of the Mission to Seafarers at Port Kembla.

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Ms Swartz said the Mission’s support of the Ruby Princess crew was emblematic of the caring spirit of the Illawarra community as a whole.

“The Illawarra community never lost sight of the fact that this was all about people caught up in difficult circumstances that were not of their making,” she said.

Ms Swartz also thanked operational staff from NSW Health, Australian Border Force, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, NSW Police and Aspen Medical for their professional approach during Ruby Princess’s stay at Port Kembla.

She said that it had been “heartbreaking and distressing to know that coronavirus has had, and continues to have, such a terrible impact on so many people across the world, including some of our guests, crewmembers and their families”.

“Our hearts and thoughts go out to everyone that has been affected,” Ms Swartz.

Arrangements have been put in place to fly home much of the ship’s crew from Sydney, with a skeleton crew remaining on board to sail it back to Manila. Ruby Princess has been the focus of controversy since coronavirus-positive passengers were allowed to disembark in Sydney, spreading the disease into the community.

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