Cruise ships are considered the cream on top of a regional economy. But the Ruby Princess' visit to Napier on March 15 has soured that cream.

There were, at last count, 16 cases of Covid-19 linked to the Ruby Princess' Napier visit. Those cases have blown Hawke's Bay's Covid-19 figures out to a disproportionate 35.

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In some ways, we should consider ourselves lucky. Because there are now more than 600 Covid-19 cases linked to the Ruby Princess, which is docked in Sydney.

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And 15 people who were on the ship have since died from Covid-19.

This week, the cruise ship's "black box" was seized by New South Wales police. A homicide investigation is under way. The black box is expected to reveal Covid-19 communication about the ship.

That could include the moment the ship's captain revealed that Covid-19 was present.

There was always a good chance Covid-19 was going to land in Napier via a cruise ship.

Why was it allowed to berth in the first place?

Because Hawke's Bay's DHB was happy that Covid-19 was not present aboard the ship as of March 15.

The captain had been asked about sick passengers and several were tested before anyone came ashore. The results were negative - and the ship's passengers disembarked.

Something seems to have happened either during the ship's Napier visit, or shortly after, because it cut its New Zealand stint short and left Napier, for Sydney.

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This week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that New Zealand was seeking legal advice about the Ruby Princess and whether it fulfilled its legal obligations. As she noted, we are now "suffering the consequences".

The reasons that were given for the rescheduled Napier to Sydney route was apparently something to do with the weather.

June and Andrew Ranyard caught coronavirus after their latest trip on the Ruby Princess. Photo / Supplied
June and Andrew Ranyard caught coronavirus after their latest trip on the Ruby Princess. Photo / Supplied

A Napier couple who were aboard the ship, say they got to Sydney and disembarked on March 19 not knowing there had been a Covid-19 outbreak aboard the ship.

June and Andrew Ranyard got home, and came down with Covid-19 almost immediately.

It would seem there are going to be storm clouds on the horizon for the Ruby Princess for some time yet.

And we all await with interest the secrets that the black box may reveal.

And in particular, communication on or around March 15 will be under the microscope in Hawke's Bay.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website