Australian police have boarded Ruby Princess to take possession of its black box and question crew members.
The ship docked and disembarked guests in Sydney three weeks ago, with those passengers now linked to hundreds of Covid-19 cases across the country.
New South Wales detectives boarded the vessel last night at Port Kembla to gather evidence.
They are looking into how hundreds of passengers aboard were allowed to leave the ship on March 19th.
“Strike Force Bast investigators are conducting inquiries on-board the Ruby Princess this evening,” explained a statement.
“The operation is being conducted under the strictest health and workplace safety guidelines.”
The majority of the crew remain on the ship, with police wearing protective gear as they boarded.
Officers are now seeking to interview other high-priority witnesses about the scandal, including executives at Princess Cruises and owner Carnival Corporation.
Ruby Princess is expected to remain at Port Kembla for ten days with 1,040 crew members undergoing medical assessments.
About 200 crew have shown symptoms of coronavirus, while 18 crew have so far tested positive.
The police investigation adds to the woes of the cruise industry, argued GlobalData.
Ben Cordwell, tourism analyst with the data company, said: “A criminal investigation into whether biosecurity laws have been broken adds to the negative publicity that the cruise industry has experienced over the past few weeks.
“The reputation of the industry is low due to constant media reports of cramped conditions, ships being rejected from ports and cruises accused of being breeding grounds for Covid-19.
“This has led to cruise businesses offering various gestures to help combat the virus in an attempt to improve public relations.
“However, the most recent investigation is another blow to the industry in its hour of need.
“If cruises start being blamed for the spread of the virus, this could lead to serious public backlash against businesses.
“Cruise operators must do all they can to reduce the impact of continued negative publicity on future bookings.”
Cruise operators such as Carnival are also excluded from bailout efforts in the United States, having based the majority of operations in tax havens around the world.
As a result, Carnival was this week forced to raise private finance.
For all the latest from Breaking Travel News on the coronavirus pandemic, take a look here.
Image: Zhu Hongye/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images