Still cruising: 6,000 Carnival passengers are at sea amid coronavirus pandemic

Still cruising: 6,000 Carnival passengers are at sea amid coronavirus pandemic
Still cruising: 6,000 Carnival passengers are at sea amid coronavirus pandemic  

Approximately 6,000 Carnival Corp. passengers are still aboard the company's cruise ships as the coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep the globe.

These passengers are all expected to disembark by the end of April, according to an SEC filing from the company on Tuesday. Carnival will provide some of its crew food and housing, as they are unable to return home.

Carnival Corp. is the world's largest cruise line, and is the parent company of Princess Cruises, Costa Cruises and Holland America. Princess has been at the center of the issue of coronavirus-infected cruise ships, with the Diamond Princess and Grand Princess both experiencing highly publicized outbreaks.

For Princess, problems continue: A "higher-than-normal number" of passengers on another Princess ship, the Coral Princess, have reported flu-like symptoms, which are similar to those of COVID-19, the line said in a Tuesday statement shared by spokesperson Negin Kamali. Passengers have been asked to self-isolate until the ship docks. The plan is for the ship to head to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to disembark, the cruise line said, though officials have already expressed concern about two Holland America cruise ships headed there.

The MS Zaandam and the MS Rotterdam are en route to Florida, and since March 22, 83 passengers and 117 crew members have reported flu-like symptoms on the Zaandam, though the cruise line has said only 15 remain ill.

Costa Cruises, owned by Carnival, has two ships, the Costa Magica and Costa Favolosa, are anchored near the port of Miami also awaiting docking with some crew members aboard.

The Costa Luminosa and Ruby Princess, meanwhile, have documented coronavirus cases, per the filing.

The British-flagged and U.S.-operated Diamond Princess had carried an infected passenger part way before returning to its home port in Yokohama, near Tokyo, on Feb. 3. Of the 3,711 passengers and crew members on board, 705 were infected on the ship, triggering international criticism of the quarantine and Japan's disease control capability.

More than 3,500 people on board the Grand Princess for a Hawaii voyage were potentially exposed to COVID-19. Of the 1,103 passengers from the Grand Princess that elected to be tested, 103 tested positive, 699 tested negative. Two passengers have died.

In its filing, the company also warned of financial struggles ahead even after the outbreak subsides.

Princess Cruises had a health problem long before back-to-back outbreaks of the new coronavirus on the Diamond and Grand Princess ships unmoored the entire cruise industry.

Their passengers fell sick extraordinarily often. Nearly 5,000 people onboard Princess ships in the past decade have suffered from bouts of vomiting, diarrhea - or both - in numbers widespread enough that government health officials issued alerts on 26 outbreaks.

The next-closest cruise line, Celebrity, reported one-third fewer breakouts during the same years.

Trump plans to intervene on Holland America cruise ships heading to Florida

President Donald Trump said Tuesday he is going to speak with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis about whether to allow two Holland America cruise ships, one with four dead and 200 passengers and crew having had flu-like symptoms, to dock.

One of the four people who died on board was British, Erik Elvejord, spokesperson for Holland America Line confirmed to USA TODAY. Other details were not released.

While never explicitly saying what he plans to tell DeSantis, who has raised concerns about allowing the ships into port, Trump said, "I am going to do what is right, not only for us but for humanity."

Holland America's MS Zaandam and MS Rotterdam cruise ships - one with ill people on board - have crossed the Panama Canal and are headed to Florida. But whether the coronavirus-infected ship and its sister vessel will be able to dock has been in question.

Holland America transferred healthy passengers to the Rotterdam, which met the Zaandam with additional supplies, staff and test kits last week. The two ships have remained together for the rest of the journey.

Contributing: Andrea Mandell, Letitia Stein, Mike Stucka and Cara Kelly, USA TODAY; Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus: Carnival Corp. has 6,000 cruise ship guests at sea


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