Cruise Ship Health Surveillance Program

Image shows number of cruise ships arriving in Sydney by year

The Sydney Cruise Ship Health Surveillance Program works closely with the cruise ship industry and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to improve health surveillance on cruise ships and respond to outbreaks of infectious disease. 

The global cruise ship industry is growing fast and Sydney is Australia's most popular cruise port. In 2017 there were 340 voyages arriving at the White Bay or Overseas Passenger Terminal, bringing over 1 million passengers and crew to Sydney. 


Members of the cruise ship team regularly review human health reports that are submitted by cruise ships before they arrive in Sydney. When cases of infectious diseases occur, or outbreaks of illness are reported, the team responds according to NSW Health protocols. 

The aims of the program are to

  • Routinely review the human health reports submitted through the Maritime Arrival Reporting System (MARS)
  • Respond to reported deaths and cases of infectious disease
  • Provide information and support to crew on the public health management of infectious diseases including diagnosis, testing and outbreak response
  • Encourage early communication of outbreaks of infectious disease
  • Increase preventative action and risk communication for passengers and crew
  • Encourage accurate health reporting
  • Routinely collate and publish aggregate human health data 

This report summarises the rate of ship's complement diagnosed with acute respiratory disease or acute gastroenteritis for cruise ships entering Sydney Harbour, as reported on pre-arrival reports since January 2018. 

    Peer reviewed articles

    1. Lun J, Hewitt J, Sitabkhan A, Eden JS, Enosi Tuipulotu D, Netzler NE, Morrell L, Merif J, Jones R, Huang B, Warrilow D, Ressler KA, Ferson MJ, Dwyer DE, Kok J, Rawlinson WD, Deere D, Crosbie ND and White P. (2018) Emerging recombinant noroviruses identified by clinical and waste water screening. Emerging Microbes & Infections 7:50. DOI 10.1038/s41426-018-0047-8.
    2. Lun, J, Ressler, KA, Ferson M, White, P. (2017). Norovirus and cruise ships. Microbiology Australia 10.1071/MA17065.
    3. Ferson MJ, Ressler K-A (2005). Bound for Sydney Town: health surveillance on international cruise vessels visiting the Port of Sydney. Medical Journal of Australia; 182: 391-394

    To contact the South Eastern Sydney Public Health Unit's Cruise Ship Program email us or phone (02) 9382 8333 during business hours.