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Ship passengers hopeful of quick return

Bermudians in quarantine on a cruise ship denied entry to a series of ports in the southern hemisphere because of the Covid-19 pandemic remain hopeful of returning home by the “end of the week”.

There are 22 Bermudians on board the Coral Princess, which arrived in Miami on Saturday with 1,020 people after it was denied permission to dock in Fort Lauderdale because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Pamela Maybury, who works for island travel agents Travel Edge is a passenger on the ship.

She said: “We are still on the ship at the Miami cruise pier, we could not get into Fort Lauderdale.

“The group is well and mentally strong. We speak to one another every day.

“We all do things in our cabins to keep ourselves occupied, such as word games, reading, writing in journals and knitting.”

Two people died on the Bermudian-registered ship as it approached Florida.

Another passenger died last Saturday at a hospital after an hours-long wait to to be transported ashore.

Some passengers were able to leave on Saturday and Sunday.

The ship visited Bridgetown, Barbados, last Tuesday. No one was allowed ashore, but samples were sent for tests while the vessel was in port after some passengers showed “flu-like symptoms”.

The Washington Post later reported that 12 people on the ship had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Ms Maybury said: “When the captain first announced there were people diagnosed with flu-like symptoms people just continued as normal.

“Once the results came back from Barbados, the captain then announced some of the guests had tested positive for the Covid-19 and immediately after that we were sent back to our cabins, where we still remain.”

Ms Maybury added: “Meals are left outside our doors with a knock and that goes for anything else that needs to come into the cabin.

“We have been in our cabins for six days under quarantine.”

She hopes to return within a day “if not by the end of the week”.

Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, said last night the Government was aware of the situation and working to bring the Bermudians back home.

He said: “I want the families of those people on the ship to know that your Government and the people in Bermuda are working feverishly to get everyone home safely.”

The Coral Princess was refused entry to several ports while on a cruise from Santiago, Chile, around South America and the Caribbean because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

There were 34 Bermudians on the ship at first, but 12 managed to catch a flight from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and travelled in a bus escorted by police after the ship was granted permission by Argentine authorities to enter port.

The rest missed another flight because of a delay in the return of the bus to the ship to pick up the remainder and were stranded on board.

An unsuccessful attempt to disembark passengers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was also made.

Princess Cruises, the owner of the Coral Princess, said that new guidance issued by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention that recommended that the passengers do not travel on commercial flights or share transport with non-cruise guests would “unfortunately result in further delays in disembarkation and onward travel for many guests as we work through this complex, challenging and unfortunate situation”.

The cruise line added: “We express continued gratitude to our guests for their patience and understanding as we work to adapt to these new requirements.”

The Coral Princess's sister ship, Diamond Princess, was earlier quarantined in Yokohama, Japan, after hundreds of passengers came down with Covid-19.

At least ten on board have since died.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on the $45 billion-a-year cruise industry.

Passengers on other ships have had their trips cancelled or altered and operators such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean International have warned that the crisis will have a serious effect on their business.

Pam Maybury (File photograph)

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Published April 08, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated April 08, 2020 at 9:01 am)

Ship passengers hopeful of quick return

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