Princess Cruises’ Coral Princess has finally docked in Miami after having been denied permission to disembark its passengers at ports in multiple countries, although no one aboard had actually tested positive for COVID-19 until this week. Onboard medical staff noticed a higher-than-usual number of ship’s occupants coming down with flu-like over a week ago and, starting March 30, guests were asked to stay in their rooms.
CNN reported that the ship arrives with two dead and several others sick with the novel coronavirus. While it’s unclear exactly how many of Coral Princess’ 1,000-plus passengers and 878 crew will be cleared to disembark in Miami, Miami Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez told CNN that the most seriously ill will be transported off the ship first, bound for local hospitals. Two guests, in particular, who require immediate medical attention were to be taken to Miami’s Larkin Community Hospital, said the mayor.
Gimenez also explained that about fifteen coronavirus-positive passengers who don’t need immediate hospitalization will remain aboard to receive care in the ship’s medical ward until they are cleared the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
Reportedly, those passengers who are deemed fit to fly home will begin disembarking tomorrow, although the process, Princess Cruises said, “is expected to take several days, due to limited flight availability,” Mayor Gimenez disclosed that over 990 passengers and 840 crew members have thus far been deemed fit for travel.
The Coral Princess was about halfway through its itinerary when, on March 12, Princess Cruises announced that it would end underway voyages as soon as possible as worldwide concern grew regarding the spread of COVID-19. The cruise, which departed from Chile on March 5 and was scheduled to finish March 19 in Argentina, lasted more than two weeks longer than originally planned.
The vessel tried to disembark on March 19 in Buenos Aires as originally scheduled, as many passengers had air travel booked home from that point. When it did dock, the government would only allow Argentine passport holders and others who had confirmed same-day flights off the ship. The Argentine government warned that, if the Coral Princess did not cast off again that same night, it would be required to remain there indefinitely with no passengers disembarking.
The Coral Princess afterward appealed to authorities in Uruguay, where it was able to resupply, and in Brazil, but was denied disembarkation by both. Heading towards Florida, the ship picked up supplies once more in Barbados before finally finding safe harbor in Miami.
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