Well, it seems history is repeating itself, as Princess Cruises has confirmed another outbreak of coronavirus on one of their ships. This time it is the Coral Princess, a ship designed to navigate the Panama Canal that was refurbished in 2019. It can accommodate 2000 guests and hosts nearly 900 crew members, so an outbreak of the incredibly infectious COVID-19 virus is certainly a worrying development. At the time of this writing, the ship was currently not quite full, but was still hosting a large amount of people: 1020 guests and 878 crew.
The presence of the virus was confirmed on April 2. The ship was quick to get testing done once people began reporting respiratory and flu-like symptoms. 13 people were tested (7 of which were passengers, 5 of which were crew), and those tests were sent to Barbados on March 31 to be analyzed. Just a few days later, there were 12 positive results. This may not seem like a huge number, but we have to remember the fact that this virus can spread at an exponential rate. The longer these people are on the ship, the more dangerous the spread will theoretically be.
So, what’s next for those on the Coral Princess? Well, the ultimate goal is to get the ship docked as soon as possible. They are currently en route to Fort Lauderdale where they are hoping to evacuate the travelers. Readers that are familiar with other outbreaks on cruise ships will remember how tricky getting people off of these ships can be, though. It should be assumed that anyone on the ship can have the virus, so getting them home should be done with utmost caution and tact. We’re not sure yet if Princess is planning some type of quarantine situation for travelers once they’re docked. They said in a statement that “Princess Cruises continues to remain in contact with local officials regarding disembarkation details,” so hopefully the state of Florida will be able to figure out a good solution.
The ship is supposed to be at Ford Lauderdale by April 4. So, what is to be done in the meantime? Isolation is the name of the game. Guests are being asked to stay in their rooms until they are allowed to disembark, a task which is being made easier by all meals being delivered by room service, as well as free wi-fi and television. Princess is also taking the step of distributing face masks to guests, a move that mirrors the slow change in mask rhetoric among different U.S. officials that seems to be becoming more pro-mask. Hopefully these steps will curb the spread as much as possible.
This is certainly not the first Princess cruise to have an outbreak of coronavirus, but we can hope it will be the last. We will be here to keep you updated on any developments that occur once it reaches Fort Lauderdale.