The Ruby Princess cruise ship off the coast of Sydney (Image: AAP/Joel Carrett)

The first legal action has begun in Australia against the owners of the Ruby Princess cruise ship, with Shine lawyers filing a class action in the Federal Court.

The class action suit alleges that the outbreak of COVID-19 on the Ruby Princess, which docked in March and led to Australia's largest virus outbreak, resulted from "a failure to take appropriate measures" to ensure passengers were safe and protected from the virus on the ship.

It alleges that this failure constituted breaches of a duty of care to passengers, and amounted to breaches of the consumer guarantees "and other provisions of Australian consumer law".