A third Princess Cruises ship is keeping thousands of passengers on board while crew members get tested for COVID-19 coronavirus.
The Caribbean Princess was on a 10-day trip to the Panama Canal and was scheduled to dock in Grand Cayman today. But the California-based cruise line said it will keep passengers and crew from disembarking. Instead, test kits will be picked up after notifying the CDC that 2 crew members had transferred from a Princess ship in California where a guest had tested positive for COVID-19.
These crew members being tested are currently “asymptomatic” and are remaining alone in their rooms “out of an abundance of caution” as the ship returns to Fort Lauderdale, the company statement said.
The ship is under a “no sail order” from the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which will require it to remain at anchor off the coast of Florida until further notice, the statement said. It was originally scheduled to return to Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday.
The Regal Princess underwent a similar process, spending most of a day sailing up and down the Florida coast, before finally pulling into Port Everglades late Sunday. Its passengers finally disembarked after two crew members tested negative for the coronavirus. Those crew members also lacked symptoms, but had come from the Grand Princess in California, where at least 21 people tested positive.
Also Sunday, the U.S. State Department advised against travel on cruise ships, particularly for travelers with underlying health conditions. The advisory said the CDC has noted an “increased risk of infection of COVID-19 in a cruise ship environment.”
It is unclear how many people have been on board the Florida-based ships. The cruise line said the Regal Princess has a capacity of 3,560 guests and the Caribbean Princess can carry more than 3,600 guests.
Passengers began disembarking shortly after the Regal Princess pulled into port, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported. Penny Sitz, of Minnesota, said the crew was “fantastic,” constantly cleaning and “making us wash our hands all the time.”
The Regal Princess had been scheduled to return to sea on a seven-day Caribbean trip on Sunday, but that voyage was canceled. The cruise line said guests would receive a full refund and offered $300 reimbursement for one night’s hotel costs.
The cruise line hasn’t announced plans for the next Caribbean Princess voyage. A cruise on the same ship was cut short last month after a gastrointestinal outbreak sickened at least 299 passengers and 22 crew members.