SAN FRANCISCO — Originally scheduled to dock in San Francisco today, Grand Princess is now anchored off the coast of California with several dozen passengers awaiting coronavirus testing.
There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus on board the ship currently, however a cluster of passengers who sailed on the ship on its Feb. 11 – 21 Mexico sailing have come down with the virus, and one passenger on that sailing, a 71-year old man with pre-existing health conditions, has died.
The latest development puts Princess Cruises back in the consumer news headlines right on the heels of the Diamond Princess quarantine off the coast of Japan.
In a March 4 statement on its website, Princess says the U.S. Centers of Disease Control (CDC) has identified groups of guests and crew who will be tested before arrival into San Francisco. After wrapping up its Feb. 11 – 21 Mexico itinerary, the ship had embarked on a Hawaii sailing.
“There are fewer than 100 guests and crew identified for testing, including all in-transit guests (guests who sailed the previous Mexico voyage and remained on board for the current Hawaii voyage), those guests and crew who have experienced influenza-like illness symptoms on this voyage, and guests currently under care for respiratory illness,” says Princess.
The U.S. Coast Guard will deliver sampling kits to Grand Princess this morning, March 5, by helicopter.
The ship’s onboard medical team will administer the test and the samples will be sent in batches by helicopter to a local lab.
No guests be permitted to disembark until all results have been received, according to requests from public health officials, says Princess.
“Out of an abundance of caution, all guests who have been identified for testing have been asked to remain in their staterooms. We will continue to proceed under the guidance of the U.S. CDC and local authorities.”
Princess is also confirming the cancellation of its upcoming Grand Princess Hawaii cruise, originally scheduled to depart on March 7.
All guests will receive a full refund of their cruise fare, Princess Air, Princess Cruise Plus pre- and post-cruise hotel packages, prepaid shore excursions and other prepaid items purchased through Princess. Unexpected expenses, such as air change fees, reimbursement of reasonable non-refundable out-of-pocket expenses will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Guests will also receive a Future Cruise Credit equal to 100% of the cruise fare paid on this voyage.
The ship’s chief medical officer Dr. Grant Tarling issued this Health Advisory Letter to guests and crew: “I wish to advise you that today we have been notified by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that they are investigating a small cluster of COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases in Northern California connected to our previous Grand Princess voyage that sailed roundtrip San Francisco from February 11 to February 21. We are working closely with our CDC partners and are following their recommendations.
“For those guests who sailed with us on our previous voyage and may have been exposed, in an abundance of caution, the CDC requires you to remain in your stateroom until you have been contacted and cleared by our medical staff. A member of our medical team will be calling you between the hours of 8:00 AM and 11:00 AM this morning. You may order room service while you wait for the medical screening to be completed, and we apologize for any inconvenience.”