Heartfelt farewell as dozens attempt to say goodbye to Ruby Princess crew

Wollongong lived up to its global reputation as a warm friendly welcoming city on Thursday when hundreds tried to say good bye to the Ruby Princess.

Many like Larry and Lyn Martin were in a quandary between trying to do the right thing with social distancing and letting the remaining crew on board know they were in Wollongong's thoughts.

Families spaced out trying to stay a safe distance from each other. But when Police arrived just before the cruise ship sailed though the heads they knew the officers were just trying to do their job and keep the community safe from the spread of COVID-19.

The Martins were among many who heeded the warning and left.

"I've had a very big interest in these people who have been stuck on this ship here," Mrs Martin said.

"And the things our community has done has just been lovely".

Mrs Martin said she wished people had been allowed to space out along the foreshore at the end of Christy Drive so the crew could see them waving them off and wishing them a safe voyage home to their families.

Mr Martin said no-one working on the Ruby Princess would have meant for anything bad to happen. And wanted them to know they were in his thoughts.

I've had a very big interest in these people who have been stuck on this ship here. And the things our community has done has just been lovely.

Lyn Martin

Sally Barber said she too sympathised for the crew and everyone impacted by what had happened. "I feel sorry for them. It is so sad".

Others were concerned about how long the crew had been on the ship and were glad they were getting to go home.

Some parents brought their children because they knew people will long talk about the time Ruby Princess came to Port Kembla and the way the community responded with gifts and kind messages for the crew.

The general feeling among people before they were moved on was it was a chapter in Wollongong's history to be proud of and something that says a lot about the community.

And those who saw it were moved by the gesture from the crew who placed a giant 'Thank You Illawarra' on the stern as a message of gratitude as Ruby Princess sailed off to Manilla in the Philippines.

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This story All the photos from the Ruby Princess departure at Port Kembla first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.