More than 6,000 passengers from seven cruise ships are still at sea waiting to dock – even though the cruise was halted in mid-March.
Many of these passengers boarded long cruises around the world months ago, before the virus was notoriously spread on cruise ships like the Diamond Princess and the Grand Princess. Only one – Greg Mortimer of Aurora Expeditions – has publicly reported COVID-19 on board.
All but two vessels have plans to dock within the month. Two of them planned to dock on Sunday, including Greg Mortimer, who arrived at the port on Saturday afternoon, Eastern Daylight Time.
Thursday night, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended a cruise ship non-navigation order – first imposed on March 13 – for the next 100 days and berated the industry for having poorly controlled spread of the virus on board its ships.
The agency has given the cruise industry until April 16 to develop a new and improved plan to bring 6,000 or more passengers – and tens of thousands of crew members – ashore safely.
Leading cruise industry lobby group, Cruise Lines International Association, called its earlier proposals to contain the virus “far-reaching” in a statement and noted that there could be unintended economic consequences if the order was maintained for a long time.
An analysis by the Miami Herald found seven ships still at sea with passengers on board and four in or near ports with passengers still on board.
The Pacific Princess left the Everglades port of Fort Lauderdale on January 5 for a 111-day world cruise. After the coronavirus cut short, most passengers disembarked and returned home when the ship docked on March 21 in Fremantle, Australia, Princess Cruises said.
But 115 passengers remained on board. Some did not meet the International Air Transport Association fitness standards for air travel, “said a press release from Princess. Others “were unable to fly home due to individual medical conditions unrelated to COVID-19,” said Princess.
The Pacific Princess plans to unload four Hawaiian residents in Honolulu on Monday when the ship docks for fuel, the Honolulu Star Advertiser announced. From there, he will travel to Los Angeles to unload the other 111 passengers on April 24.
Princess is owned by Miami-based Carnival Corporation.
Two weeks ago, the MSC Magnifica landed in Western Australia without authorizing anyone ashore, according to the Australian news site news.com.au. The Australian government has declared the ship to be “incompatible” with its information on the health of its passengers.
Prime Minister Mark McGowan told the news site that at least 250 of his 1,771 passengers suffered from upper respiratory disease, operator MSC said. The ship left Italy in January for a 116-day crossing and was originally scheduled to dock in Rome on April 29. But the line declined to comment on its final destination to Reuters. An MSC spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Miami Herald.
The ship was crossing the Bab al-Mandab Strait between Yemen and Eritrea on Saturday, according to Cruisemapper.
The Costa Deliziosa, owned by Costa Cruises, left Venice on January 5 with a scheduled return date of April 26. The company is still working with Italian officials to find a landing port, Newsweek reported. So far, his itinerary includes only stops for more fuel and supplies.
On March 13, when Carnival Corp, based in Miami and owner of Costa Cruises, stopped sailing, navigation on the Costa Deliziosa continued.
“The current route of the world tour will be completed to allow guests to disembark and return home,” said the cruise line operator in a statement reported by NBC News.
The ship currently has 1,830 guests and 899 crew members, the company said in the newspaper. Saturday was just off the Egyptian coast of the Mediterranean Sea, according to Cruisemapper.
Costa did not immediately return a request for comment.
The Columbus, owned by Britain’s Cruise & Maritime Voyages, left London on January 6 for a 120-day world cruise. He plans to dock at the London Cruise Terminal on April 14 with 907 passengers and 619 crew members on board, Newsweek reported. On Saturday, it was located in the Atlantic, just north of Portugal.
On April 3, the company told the media that no one on board had symptoms of COVID-19.
The Astor, also owned by Cruise & Maritime Voyages, is scheduled to dock in Bremerhaven, Germany, on April 12, according to Newsweek. Saturday, it was located off the German coast.
The Arcadia, owned by P&O Cruises of Britian, is expected to dock as scheduled in Southampton, England with 1375 guests and 836 crew on April 12 after a 100-day world cruise, the company said on Twitter. P&O is owned by Miami-based Carnival Corp.
Queen Mary 2
According to Newsweek, the Cunard Line Queen Mary 2 plans to dock in Southampton, England in the coming weeks. Most of the passengers disembarked in Fremantle, Australia in mid-March, but 264 guests are still on board. The 113-day global journey between New York and New York began on January 3. Cunard is owned by Carnival Corp., based in Miami.
The ship is currently off the southern coast of Morocco, according to CruiseMapper.
Dockside ships with passengers on board
CLIA said four cruise ships are currently docked at ports around the world awaiting passenger disembarkation.
▪ GREG MORTIMER: Before Greg Mortimer of Aurora Expeditions docked near Montevideo, Uruguay on Saturday, more than half of the 217 people on board for an Antarctic cruise tested positive for COVID-19.
More than 100 Australian and New Zealand passengers disembarked on Saturday and took a charter flight home, the Bangkok Post reported on Saturday. Television cameras captured passengers and celebrating Uruguayans. A cruise passenger kissed the tarmac.
The charter flight had both sick and healthy passengers on board, seated in order of illness, the company told the Post.
Twenty European and American passengers are still on board, as well as 80 crew members. They will have to be negative for the virus before they can go home.
Aurora Expeditions is based in Sydney, Australia.
▪ PRINCESS OF CORAL: The Coral Princess landed hundreds of passengers at PortMiami this week, including 37 who were medically evacuated to hospitals in Florida. One man, Wilson Maa, 71, of San Francisco, died in a Miami-Dade hospital after waiting hours on board an ambulance.
The princess announced Thursday that 13 remaining passengers are to remain on board and complete a 40-day quarantine at sea with the crew after Miami-Dade prohibited them from transferring to hotels.
▪ ROTTERDAM: The Rotterdam, a Holland America Line ship that carried 800 passengers from the Zaandam via the Panama Canal and the port of the Everglades, is anchored offshore with 29 passengers on board, a company spokesman confirmed.
Holland America Line, which is owned by Carnival Corp., said it was working to organize charter flights for passengers.
▪ ECLIPSE OF CELEBRITY: The Celebrity Eclipse, now docked in San Diego, landed more than 2,300 passengers on March 30. CLIA has confirmed that nine passengers are still on board awaiting a return journey.
The San Diego KUSI newspaper reported that a former passenger died from COVID-19 and several crew members with positive test results are quarantined on board the ship.
The ship left Argentina on March 1 for a two-week voyage scheduled to end in San Antonio, Chile. But when the ship arrived on March 15, the nation had closed its borders, forcing the ship to head to San Diego instead.