Grand Princess Arrives in Oakland
Ship carried passengers, crew ill with coronavirus
The cruise ship Grand Princess — carrying some 3,500 people from 54 countries with at least two passengers and 19 crew members suffering from the coronavirus disease — docked at Pier 22 at the Port of Oakland just before noon on Monday. The passengers included several Alameda residents. The isolated pier is not on the Oakland Estuary.
The United States Coast Guard transported seven people from the Department of Health and Human Services to the Grand Princess the day before while the cruise ship was awaiting permission to sail through the Golden Gate.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that “process of getting all 2,421 passengers off the vessel, routing them to their destination in a secure fashion and sending the Grand Princess back to sea with its crew of 1,113 is expected to take two or three days.” Newsom stated that passengers who “require acute medical treatment and hospitalization” would be first to disembark. The 962 California residents aboard were the next group given permission to leave the ship. Authorities are quarantining them at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield and Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego.
The state planned to transport other American citizens to either Joint Base San Antonio Lackland in Texas or Dobbins Air Force Base in Georgia. Plans are being drawn up to take passengers from other countries to their respective homes on charter flights.
Princess Cruises announced that it would quarantine the entire crew aboard the cruise ship. Authorities plan to test and monitor passengers not already tested after they arrive at their quarantine sites.
It is likely that the first person to die in California of coronavirus had sailed aboard the Grand Princess and disembarked earlier. Tests on 45 others aboard the ship with coronavirus symptoms, both passengers and crew members, showed that 21 of them had the respiratory disease. Nineteen were part of the 1,100-person crew.
Getting the passengers off the ship is a slow process. According to the captain of the Grand Princess only 407 passengers disembarked on Monday. He promised that all remaining Californians would be off the ship on Tuesday along with United Kingdom and Canadians residents who would then board chartered flights home.
Princess Cruises stated in a press release on Tuesday that two travelers who tested positive for coronavirus had disembarked on Monday and were taken to hospitals along with their travel companions. The release also stated that 19 crew members who have tested positive showed no symptoms of the disease and remained on the ship in isolated cabins.
Princess Cruises and its parent company Carnival Cruises that own and operate the stricken ship stated that they will refund all the money that passengers paid for their cruise — air travel, hotels, ground transportation and pre-paid shore excursions. The companies also stated that they plan to offer all passengers credit for a future voyage equal to the fare they paid for the ill-stricken cruise. This offer will not stop lawsuits, however. A couple aboard the Grand Princess have already filed a $1 million civil suit.
These companies also own the Diamond Princess, which authorities quarantined off Japan in February. At the time that cruise ship held the largest cluster of coronavirus cases outside China; 700 passengers became infected with coronavirus, of those, six have succumbed to the disease.