Four Corners reveals how fear and disease spread on the Ruby Princess

Ruby Princess (image – ABC)

On the 19th of March, thousands of passengers disembarked from the Ruby Princess cruise ship in Sydney harbour.

Their “luxury” cruise holiday had been cut short after authorities announced cruise ships would be banned from Australian ports as part of measures to stop the spread of coronavirus.   Passengers mingled in groups on the shore before dispersing around the country and overseas.

“We thought we were going to go into the problem. We didn’t realize we were going to be the problem.”  US passenger infected on the Ruby Princess

Far from protecting people, the release of the Ruby Princess’s passengers instead triggered a public health emergency with the cruise ship now named as the single largest source of Australia’s coronavirus infections.

“I can’t think (about) who I infected. I can’t.  I just can’t do it. I’m sorry if I did and if it caused somebody to get sick or to die.”  Passenger infected on the Ruby Princess

On Monday Four Corners investigates how the Ruby Princess became an incubator for infection, leaving its passengers and staff dangerously exposed.

“As far as I’m concerned, they put the mighty dollar first and they never put our safety first.”  Passenger infected on the Ruby Princess

Owned by the world’s largest cruise company, Carnival Corporation, the Ruby Princess was one of a fleet of cruise ships operating as the pandemic gathered speed.   The company was well aware of the risks.  Only five weeks earlier, a sister ship, the Diamond Princess, created world headlines when its passengers were trapped on board as the virus spread.

“You’re enclosed, you’re breathing in this air…It could be anywhere, you know? You’re hiding from something you don’t know and where do you hide?”  Passenger infected on the Diamond Princess

Four Corners examines the crucial decisions made by the cruise operator as they continued to take people to sea.  In interviews with passengers on multiple voyages, an alarming picture emerges.

“Ship life was the same. There was entertainment all throughout the day and the night. Nothing had changed whatsoever.”  Passenger infected on the Ruby Princess

Four Corners also investigates the actions of Australian authorities who allowed the ship to dock and the passengers to disembark, taking the virus with them.

“The Australian authorities should have been put on notice as any other port authority at that particular time that cruise ships coming in were potentially going to be sources of the virus and that steps needed to be taken.”  Lawyer

With the cruise company already busily marketing future cruises once the pandemic restrictions are lifted, some of those infected with the virus say action must be taken.

“Somebody needs to be held accountable…because they have a duty of care, or supposedly a duty of care to look after their passengers…I nearly lost my life.”

Outbreak Onboard, reported by Elise Worthington, goes to air on Monday 25th May at 8.30pm. It is replayed on Tuesday 26th May at 1.00pm and Wednesday 27th at 11.20pm.

It can also be seen on ABC NEWS channel on Saturday at 8.10pm AEST, ABC iview and at


Similar Articles


We Want To Hear From You


Follow US



THE HEIGHTS wraps up this week with ABC yet to confirm if it will return

The ABC is yet to comment publicly on the future of the local drama which has aired for two seasons.

Powerhouse female trio spearhead new SBS drama comedy THE UNUSUAL SUSPECTS

Produced by Aquarius Films, the fun yet gripping four-part heist caper is a tale of female friendship and empowerment set in Sydney’s glamorous Eastern Suburbs.

Controversy vs innocence: Do TV presenters deserve the right to a fair trial? | TV Blackbox S04E30

The podcast team are back with a whole new bunch of opinions and thoughts on what's been happening in, on, and around your box this week!

New documentary series to reveal THE SECRET OF SKINWALKER RANCH

While most look to the stars for extra-terrestrial life, one group of researchers is doing the opposite; they're looking underground.

Everything new coming to BINGE in October

October will be another month packed full of new things to watch on Binge.

10 to air Prince William: A Planet For Us All documentary

Embarking on a very personal journey of discovery and inspiration, spurred on by his devotion to fatherhood and desire to protect the natural world

Support TV Blackbox by using our partners