The Coral Princess traveled to Miami with 1,000 passengers and 878 crew members on board, after being refused Friday at Fort Lauderdale. At least one person was thrown from the boat, boarded an ambulance, and taken to a nearby hospital.
The ship was outside US waters, awaiting clearance to return to port, as two other ships overcame political objections and obtained permission to dock in Fort Lauderdale with four dead and many ill.
The Coral Princess, owned by Carnival, which also owns the other two ships, spent Friday floating near Puerto Rico. U.S. Coast Guard officials in South Florida denied the ship permission to enter Fort Lauderdale.
“Based on the unsafe conditions on board your ship,” said the South Florida coast guard in an order to society obtained by the Miami Herald, “I have determined that your ship poses an unacceptable risk to medical emergency due to the inherent and high likelihood of Covid-19 being transmitted on board, which poses a risk to the safety of personnel on board your vessel, first responders and ports in the Seventh District. “
Southern California resident Lori Bessler, who has been desperately trying to get her mother and stepfather out of the ship for weeks, told the Guardian that at least one of the dead was a Caroline woman from the South, occurred when the Coast Guard refused to dock. The other deceased woman was from Florida, she said.
“The family members are devastated and filled with disbelief,” said Bessler, who said she had discussed the situation with other passenger families in a private Facebook group. “How could the coast have [guard] deny these people access to their own country when they are dying? “
Holland America Zandaam and Rotterdam were able to unload passengers on Friday after days of tense negotiations with politicians, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who said he did not want sick passengers to be “dropped” in his state .
All ships began their cruises in South America in early March. The Coral Princess was scheduled to dock in Buenos Aires on March 19, but only passengers from South America were allowed to leave the ship. He smoked north, without a harbor, for almost two weeks.
“All of us at Princess Cruises are deeply saddened to announce that two guests have died on Coral Princess,” said the Princess Cruise line in a statement. “Our hearts go out to their families, friends and everyone affected by this loss.”
The company said it would take several days to unload all passengers, most of whom will be boarded on planes to return home. Crew members will need to stay on board, as will sick passengers who do not need to be hospitalized.
“Those with respiratory symptoms or who are still recovering from a previous illness will remain on board until medically cleared by the ship’s doctors,” the company said.
Bessler said the family members were safe, although he wanted to get off the ship. She said that she and other families and passengers were furious with the company for failing to communicate and for apparently proceeding to bring the ship to Florida without first obtaining a mooring agreement.
“I am relieved that they are there,” she said. “I just couldn’t breathe last night after hearing that the coast guard wouldn’t let them moor.”