Graeme and Karla boarded the Ruby Princess to celebrate Karla's 75th. Weeks later, Karla was dead.

Graeme Lake’s wife Karla was the most “beautiful easy going wife a man could ever have”.

They met through a blind date in the 90s (after both being married before), and had been on about 20 cruises before they boarded the Ruby Princess on March 8, to celebrate Karla’s 75th birthday with a tour of New Zealand.

10 days after returning home, Karla died of COVID-19 and Graeme’s life has been completely upended.

WATCH: Graeme on the ABC’s 7:30 . Post continues after video.

Video via ABC

Eight days into the cruise, Karla started to feel sick – she was coughing a lot – but Graeme didn’t take much notice. They both were already prone to coughing.

Once they disembarked on March 19, they made their way back to their Murrumba Downs home – north of Brisbane – where they both fell seriously unwell.

Karla was taken to hospital where her condition worsened, and on March 29 she died.

“This cruise has ruined us,” a devastated Graeme told 7:30.

Graeme and Karla
Graeme and Karla Lake. Image: ABC.

"It broke me. It's broke the kids. The grandkids. She didn't deserve it. She went on a cruise for her birthday... it's really, really devastated me. Even now I am still struggling," he told the program.


More than 650 passengers from the Ruby Princess cruise have fallen ill with COVID-19, and 19 people have died. The latest, a 63-year-old woman who passed away yesterday in the ACT.

Those figures don't include passengers who have gone overseas, or anyone who contracted the virus via secondary transmission.

Ruby Princess berthed in Pork Kembla dock, NSW.
The Ruby Princess is still docked at Port Kembla dock after being held by authorities due to the COVID-19 outbreak on-board. Image: Getty.

Graeme is determined to get justice for Karla, telling 7:30: "I am angry. I want justice. Where's the CEO? My phone hasn't been disconnected but I haven't had one phone call".

Two separate inquiries are underway into the Ruby Princess, but the cruise company maintains that it acted in line with state and federal procedures and followed the relevant health advice at the time.

The ship allowed all 2,700 passengers to disembark and disperse across the country - and the world - with little to no health checks, despite as many as 158 passengers reporting symptoms of coronavirus, a piece of information 7News revealed last week was kept from port authorities in Sydney.

The Ruby Princess currently still remains in lockdown at a port south of Wollongong, with more than 1000 crew on board, all of whom are desperate to get off and home to their families.

Investigations continue, but it could be many months before the families of the victims are given any answers, or clarity.

Graeme won't be giving up that fight.

"Princess, I am going to do anything I can to get justice for Karla," he told the ABC.

Feature image: 7:30/ ABC.

READ: 'It's decimated my family.' The human faces behind the Ruby Princess cruise ship disaster.

00:00 / ???