Thousands of passengers aboard Princess Cruises’ Grand Princess are stuck on the ship after 21 test positive for coronavirus
On Saturday morning, more than 3,500 vacationers on Princess Cruises’ Grand Princess were stuck on the large vessel off the coast of California after 21 people onboard tested positive for the deadly novel coronavirus. Of those reported to be infected, 19 are crew members and two of them are passengers, according to Vice President Mike Pence. Pence is in charge of the United States’ task force against the deadly virus that has already infected more than 100,000 people globally and killed more than 3,500.
On Friday evening, Pence announced at a White House press conference that 46 people on the ship had been tested for coronavirus with 24 testing negative and one test providing inconclusive results. “Those that will need to be quarantined will be quarantined. Those who will require medical help will receive it,” he said.
According to a report courtesy of CNN’s Jon Passantino, passengers aboard the ship were not notified of the situation prior to Pence’s announcement — and even those who had been tested were not told if they were amongst the 21 infected.
The cruise announcement says “the CDC is currently discussing the individual patient results with the ship's doctor, who will communicate the result to the patients.”
Passengers "will be notified of their test results as quickly as possible.”
— Jon Passantino (@passantino) March 6, 2020
“We apologize, but we were not given advance notice of this announcement by the U.S. federal government,” an audio announcement on the ship said, according to Passantino. “The CDC is currently discussing the individual patient results with the ship’’ doctor, who will communicate the result to the patients.”
USA Today reports that California state authorities and federal officials are working to bring the cruise ship to a non-commercial port where all those aboard the vessel can be tested. Passengers on the ship also revealed they had been notified they were going to be moving to a location 20 miles off the coast so supplies could be easily delivered. You can track the vessel on Marine Traffic’s website.
One patient was airlifted off the ship for medical treatment. “We have a guest who requires medical assistance at the moment. The [U.S.] Coast Guard has been called and the possible airlift of that guest may be possible (Friday night),” the captain said during the announcement, recorded by a passenger and shared with KCRA 3.
Passenger on the Grand Princess took this photo this morning from his state room balcony. The ship sent an orange tender boat to meet the U.S. Coast Guard, though passengers have no information about why. The mood, he said, is apprehensive. pic.twitter.com/64R5zxWi12
— Heather Knight (@hknightsf) March 7, 2020
President Donald Trump, who suspects the World Health Organization is blowing the death rate of the virus out of proportion, addressed the situation at a press conference on Friday at the U.S. Centers for to Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, admitting that he did not want to allow the passengers onto American soil, but would leave it to recommendations of medical experts.
Here's where Trump said he'd prefer if people were kept on the Grand Princess cruise ship, since "I like the numbers being where they are. I don't need to have the numbers double because of one ship." pic.twitter.com/PcVhUtjUiA
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) March 7, 2020
“I don’t need to have the numbers [of U.S. cases] double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault,” Trump told Fox News. “I have great experts, including the vice president … they would like to have the people come off. I would rather have the people stay. But I’d go with them. I told them to make the final decision.”
He added, “I don’t need the numbers to double because of one ship. Frankly, if it were up to me, I would be inclined to say leave everybody on the ship for a period of time and use the ship as your base.”
Princess Cruises says the ship is providing food and beverages via room service and offering free Wi-Fi and telephone service for passengers to stay in contact with families.
We will continue to provide guests onboard with complimentary WiFi to stay in contact with families and loved ones, and we are working to keep all guests comfortable.— Princess Cruises (@PrincessCruises) March 6, 2020
We are awaiting official specific plans for future positioning of the ship from relevant authorities. We will continue to closely follow the guidance of the CDC and other federal and state government authorities, and provide updates as they are made available.— Princess Cruises (@PrincessCruises) March 7, 2020
They also released a video, stating that their ships are “small floating cities.”
“Our ships are small floating cities. Just as life happens in cities for good and for bad–the same happens onboard our ships.” Our President, Jan Swartz shares how COVID-19 has affected guests on our ships and fellow team members, but also people around the world.#princesscruises pic.twitter.com/jNr5GaA4iw
— Princess Cruises (@PrincessCruises) March 6, 2020
A few passengers tweeted from the ship, many of them disgruntled by the way the situation was being handled.
Our anniversary celebration in Hawaii has taken an unexpected turn. Ordered to our rooms at 2pm today, we’ve had 2 bottles of water delivered & absolutely no food. Customer service tells us to “be patient” Sorry Princess, I’m tired of being patient. Unacceptable #princesscruise
— Amy Doty (@AmyDoty7890) March 6, 2020
be careful what you wish for cuz i said i didn’t wanna leave my friends on #GrandPrincess & now i’m stuck in my stateroom (side note: crew are doing all they can & people are mostly calm) #princesscruises
— Michelle Heckert (@WhatTheHeckert) March 6, 2020
CNN also reported that a mother and daughter quarantined on the Grand Princess said they found out about the people aboard who had tested positive for coronavirus by watching Pence on TV.
A mother and daughter quarantined on the Grand Princess cruise ship off the coast of California say they found out 21 people aboard had tested positive for coronavirus by watching Vice President Mike Pence on TV. https://t.co/6lxmfoSWWF pic.twitter.com/z0wbfDWIbF
— CNN (@CNN) March 7, 2020
The Grand Princess has been in limbo off the coast of Northern California since Wednesday night, after the death of an elderly man who been on a prior cruise on the ship and a number of other passengers were exhibiting symptoms.