Coral Princess docks in Fort Lauderdale

Coral and Island Princess Balconies

Another cruise ship with coronavirus victims onboard, including two fatalities, docked in Florida on Saturday.

Princess Cruises spokeswoman Negin Kamali said in an email that the Coral Princess was docking in Miami. The ship with 1,020 passengers and 878 crew members had been in limbo for days awaiting permission to dock.

As of Thursday, Kamali said seven passengers and five crew members had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Anyone in need of hospitalization would disembark first, the cruise line said, although it wasn’t immediately clear when that would happen. Those fit to fly were to begin leaving on Sunday, while others with symptoms of respiratory illness would remain on board until cleared by ship doctors.

A day earlier, the cruise ships Zaandam and Rotterdam were permitted to dock at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, with 14 critically ill people taken immediately to hospitals. The remaining passengers were slowly being allowed to board flights for home.

Schuttevaer – 100ste aankomst van ms Rotterdam

The Coral Princess had been on a South American cruise that was due to end March 19 in Buenos Aires. Since then, the ship has encountered obstacles to docking because of various port closures and cancellation of airline flights, the cruise line said.

Passengers have self-isolated in their staterooms and meals have been delivered by room service. Crew members also have remained in their quarters when they are not working.

The Coast Guard said in a news release Saturday it has been involved with processing about 120 vessels carrying some 250,000 passengers over the past three weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Coast Guard statement said as of Saturday there are 114 cruise ships carrying 93,000 crew members either in or near U.S. ports and waters. That includes 73 cruise ships with 52,000 crew members moored or anchored in U.S. ports and anchorages.

The cruise line industry announced a voluntary suspension of most ship operations from U.S. ports on March 13. The next day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a “no sail” order to all cruise ships that had not suspended operations.

“We commend the decision by the cruise industry to cease operations. However, pausing a global tourist industry does not happen instantaneously or easily,” said Vice Admiral Dan Abel, Coast Guard deputy commandant for operations. “The federal, state, local and industry cooperation to achieve this feat truly represents the whole-of-nation approach directed by the president and is essential to fighting the spread of this virus and working to minimize the loss of life.”

Princess Cruises is a brand of Miami-based Carnival Corp., the world’s largest cruise company.

Two Holland America Cruise Ships Dock in Florida

Cruise ships Zaandam (R) and Rotterdam of the Holland America Line, carrying patients affected by coronavirus disease (COVID-19), arrive at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S. April 2, 2020. REUTER/Joe Skipper

MIAMI, April 2 (Reuters) – An ocean liner forced by a deadly onboard coronavirus outbreak to languish at sea since mid-March pulled into a South Florida port on Thursday, after authorities settled plans for the vessel and its sister ship to dock and most passengers to come ashore.

The Holland America Line cruise ship MS Zaandam and its twin, the MS Rotterdam, docked late in the afternoon at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where medical personnel immediately began off-loading 13 severely ill passengers and one crew member for transport to area hospitals.

The arrival of the ships capped a nearly three-week ordeal during which about 100 passengers and dozens of crew aboard the Zaandam reported influenza-like illness and four passengers died as numerous Latin-American ports along its route refused the vessel’s entry.

Nearly two-thirds of the Zaandam’s original passengers – those who cleared a medical screening – were transferred to the Rotterdam before the ships were granted passage through the Panama Canal on Sunday.

U.S. President Donald Trump intervened on Tuesday to urge Florida officials to accept the stricken cruise ship after Governor Ron DeSantis, a fellow Republican, had declared the Zaandam unwelcome, saying he did not want its sick passengers “dumped” in his state.

The governor relented once a “unified command” consisting of federal, state and local authorities reached agreement days later on a plan for repatriating the Zaandam, which departed Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7 for what was to have been a 20-day voyage to Chile. A second leg of the cruise had been due to end in Fort Lauderdale on April 7.

The Broward County Commission gave final approval to the plan, which is to be paid for by the cruise line, early Thursday.

‘CONTROLLED EXIT’

“These two ships have U.S. citizens on board. I think the Zaandam has 40, 50 Floridians, so I think we have an interest in making sure these folks come safely,” DeSantis told a news conference on Thursday before the vessels arrived.

He said the arrival plan provides for a “controlled exit.”

At least 26 passengers known to still be symptomatic but not requiring hospitalization will remain aboard the ships in port until they are well and declared fit for travel under federal health guidelines, according to details of the agreement.

Holland America said its medical staff would care for them.

Most of the remaining 1,200 some passengers, assuming they pass a medical screening, were expected to begin disembarking on Friday and be transferred straight to chartered flights home.

“Out of an abundance of caution, these guests will be transported in coaches that will be sanitized, with limited person-to-person contact and while wearing masks,” the cruise line said.

Until Thursday, none of the Zaandam’s passengers had been off the ship since March 14, with all confined to their cabins for the past 10 days, according to the company.

Holland America said 311 passengers are U.S. citizens, 52 of the residents of Florida. Those living near the port will drive home, the cruise line said.

None of the 1,180-plus crew members from the two ships will be allowed off in Fort Lauderdale, though it was not clear when the vessels will leave and how their personnel will be repatriated.

Initial objections to the Zaandam’s arrival had drawn a rebuke from Dr Anthony Fauci, one of Trump’s chief advisers on the pandemic, who urged Florida welcome the ships to port.

“You have to take care of the people who are ill. You just have an obligation to do that. And as quickly as possible. You’ve got to get the people who are not sick, who are not infected, off the ship,” Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CBS “This Morning” just before the deal was reported.

Keith Kobler, a passenger along with his wife, Doris, told NBC they were aware the country had undergone a major shift over the past month as the coronavirus spread nationwide.

“It’s probably going to be strange for us,” he said. (Reporting by Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu in Washington and Maria Caspani in New York; Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Jonathan Oatis, Nick Macfie and Simon Cameron-Moore)

Coronavirus: Twelve cases confirmed on Princess Cruises ship

Coral Princess Port of Los Angeles - San Pedro Calendar

Twelve cases of coronavirus have been confirmed on the ship Coral Princess.

It is the third Princess Cruises ship to have contracted the deadly virus following a mass outbreak onboard Diamond Princess quarantined in Japan and Grand Princess off the California coast.

The line confirmed on Thursday that Covid-19 tests confirmed 12 positive cases – seven passengers and five crew.

Coral Princess is on its way to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale with an estimated arrival date of April 4.

“Princess Cruises continues to remain in contact with local officials regarding disembarkation details,” a spokesperson said.

The port previously refused access to stranded coronavirus-hit Holland America Line ship Zaandam before intervention by US President Donald Trump which saw the vessel arrive on Thursday.

Coral Princess is carrying 1,020 passengers, who are self-isolating in their cabins, and 878 crew.

“Due to limited flight availability, Coral Princess will remain alongside in Fort Lauderdale for two days to allow all guests to proceed directly from the ship to the airport,” the line said.

“Princess is also working with US Customs and Border Protection to ensure smooth arrival into port. We are also in regular contact with multiple embassies and consulates.”

The ship originally left San Antonio in Chile on a South America voyage on March 5 which was scheduled to end in Buenos Aires on March 19.

But Princess Cruises announced a 60-day pause of operations on March 12 due to the global spread of coronavirus, with a directive to end each cruise as soon as possible.

The ship was then denied the ability to let passengers leave at ports in South America and last made a service call into Bridgetown, Barbados, on Tuesday to take on extra provisions.

Coral Princess was forced to “abruptly depart” Buenos Aires late on March 19, before all passengers were disembarked after Argentine president Alberto Fernandez issued a decree which would have required the ship to remain in port for an “indeterminate” number of days.

“Therefore, the decision was made to leave port immediately,” Princess Cruises said.

The vessel then sailed to Montevideo in Uruguay for supplies and fuel on March 20.

Attempts to disembark passengers in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil was denied three days later.

But at the end of March Coral Princess reported a “higher-than-normal” number of people presenting influenza-like symptoms, resulting in passengers being confined to their cabins and face masks being distributed.