Coral Princess docks in Miami
A cruise ship with more than 20 Bermudians has docked in South Florida — but many passengers remain on board.
Hundreds of passengers were allowed to leave the Coral Princess after it docked on Saturday, but those with symptoms of Covid-19 or recovering from them have been required to stay on board until they are medically cleared.
A dozen cases of the virus were confirmed on the cruise ship last week with seven passengers and five crew members found to have the virus.
Three people on the Bermudian-registered ship have since died and 13 have been taken to hospital for treatment.
The ship was expected to dock in Fort Lauderdale, but it was refused and instead has docked in Miami.
Carlos Giménez, Miami-Dade mayor, said he would allow the ship to dock at PortMiami as soon as Princess Cruises arranged for flights out of Miami International Airport for passengers deemed fit to fly.
Mr Giménez added that strict protocols would be in place, with passengers required to wear masks and sit in a separate waiting area at the airport.
A spokesman for Princess Cruises confirmed guests began to disembark on Saturday.
The process continued on Sunday, but the spokesman said it was limited to “those departing on chartered flights arranged by Princess Cruises to California, Australia and the United Kingdom”.
The spokesman said: “Overnight, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention communicated changes to their policy regarding post-disembarkation travel for cruise passengers, recommending no travel via commercial flights nor shared transportation with non-cruise guests.
“Princess Cruises continues to work tirelessly to adjust the repatriation plan to meet the new CDC requirements.
“This will, unfortunately, result in further delays in disembarkation and onward travel for many guests as we work through this complex, challenging and unfortunate situation.
“We express continued gratitude to our guests for their patience and understanding as we work to adapt to these new requirements.”
The spokesman said all guests on the ship would be screened as directed by the CDC before they could leave the vessel.
They will then be required to wear a mask and practise social-distancing.
The spokesman added: “Those with respiratory symptoms, or who are still recovering, will remain on board until medically cleared by the ship’s doctors.”
David Burt, the Premier, said last night it was hoped the Bermudians on board the ship would be able to return to Bermuda on a repatriation flight scheduled to leave Fort Lauderdale this morning.
He said: “There were some complications and challenges there.
“There was a plan that was approved, but because things are changing so rapidly in the US, it becomes difficult.”
The Coral Princess set out from Santiago, Chile, on March 5 for a trip scheduled to end in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 19.
But the ship was forced to continue to Miami because of a series of port closures and airline cancellations prevented passengers from returning home.
There were 34 Bermudians on the Coral Princess, but 12 managed to catch a flight from Buenos Aires and travelled to the airport in a bus escorted by police after the ship was given permission to dock by Argentine authorities.
The rest missed a later flight because of a delay in the return of the bus to the ship and were stranded on board.
Pamela Maybury, who works for island travel agents Travel Edge and is a passenger on the ship, previously told how passengers had been confined to their cabins after some people showed “flu-like symptoms”.
An unsuccessful attempt to disembark passengers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was also made.
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