Artania cruise ship leaves Fremantle after coronavirus outbreak
The Artania has left port after a protracted stand-off with state and federal authorities. Photo: ABC News
The Artania cruise ship is leaving Fremantle more than three weeks after it first arrived at the West Australian port carrying dozens of sick passengers and crew.
Some of the few remaining passengers on board waved as the ship moved away from the dock just after 1:00pm.
The German liner is responsible for 79 of Western Australia’s 541 coronavirus cases, according to the latest available figures.
Three people from the ship died from the virus while in WA, including a 42-year-old Filipino male crew member who passed away in Royal Perth hospital on Friday.
The ship finally left port after a protracted stand-off with state and federal authorities and following an operation this morning where crew and passengers were ferried to and from the Artania.
About 60 crew members, including musicians carrying their instruments, were brought to a hotel in Perth’s CBD to undergo coronavirus monitoring.
Four buses under police guard transported them from Fremantle, where the ship has been docked for several weeks.
The group is expected to fly out of Perth tomorrow.
Buses this morning took other crew members from the city back to the Artania.
Before the ship left, two crew members were married on the wharf in Fremantle, just near the Artania’s gangplank.
The ship’s operators had fought back against an Australian Border Force directive to leave Australian waters at the start of the month.
WA Premier Mark McGowan had also repeatedly demanded the Artania leave, but the crew sought to remain for a further two weeks.
The majority of the ship’s foreign passengers were flown to Europe on charter flights weeks ago, but hundreds of crew remained on board in quarantine.
School children send postcards to Artania crew
While the Artania’s refusal to leave prompted an at-times tense stand-off with authorities, not everyone was unhappy with its presence.
A group of Perth school children has written heartfelt postcards to each of the crew members left on the Artania cruise ship, wishing them a safe journey home.
Perth school children have written heartfelt postcards to the hundreds of crew members left on the Artania cruise ship in Fremantle, including captain Morten Hansen, wishing them a safe journey home. Photo: Facebook/Captain Morten Hansen’s fansite
“These pictures and messages have brought a bit of warmth and love into our hearts during this challenging time!” the Artania’s captain, Morten Hansen, said on Facebook.
“Thank you, kids, very much for the nice words and next time we are here we are looking forward to [seeing] your charming city.
“One day when all of this is over, hopefully some fond memories will still remain for us all, and perhaps we will all feel a greater sense of global community.”