BLOOMBERG, APRIL 4, 2020
By Allison McCartney for Bloomberg – The cruise industry is underwater after ocean liners carrying thousands of passengers became some of the earliest and most high-profile spreaders of the novel coronavirus. At least a half-dozen ships are still at sea with passengers and crew on board as cruise lines navigate long trips back to port and struggle to find ports willing to let them dock.
Early in the outbreak, the Diamond Princess was forced to dock in Yokohama with its 3,000 passengers quarantined on board. Since then, more than 700 passengers tested positive for COVID-19, and eight have died. The numbers climbed so high that the ship gets its own line in the World Health Organization data on infections by country.
A month later, the Grand Princess laid anchor in Oakland, California, after 21 passengers tested positive. And on Thursday, the MS Zaandam, operated by Carnival Corp. subsidiary Holland America Line, docked in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, following the deaths of four passengers.
In the past month, most major cruise lines have suspended operations, starting with hard-hit Carnival-operated Princess Cruises on March 12. The next day, President Donald Trump requested that Carnival Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and MSC cruises halt outbound cruises for 30 days. Since then, the number of all cruise ships at sea either by the power of their engines or by sails has dropped by more than half. Many cruise liners have moved ships between ports since the stoppage with only crew aboard.
Carnival still has five ships with passengers aboard, which were thousands of miles from port when operations were suspended. There have been no incidents of coronavirus reported on those ships. MSC Cruises reports one ship with passengers, while Norwegian and Royal Caribbean report none.
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