Cruise ship due in Victoria next month held off San Francisco due to COVID-19
VICTORIA -- Victoria’s first scheduled cruise ship of the 2020 season is currently being held in the waters off San Francisco due to two previous passengers of the vessel being infected with COVID-19, one of whom died from the illness.
The ship, the Grand Princess of Princess Cruise Lines, was returning to San Francisco from Hawaii Thursday. Some of the passengers had also remained aboard the ship after it had sailed through four Mexican ports on a previous voyage.
The vessel was stopped by American authorities after they learned that two previous passengers had been infected with coronavirus. Fewer than 100 of the current passengers are now being tested for the illness, with equipment being flown into the anchored cruise ship by the U.S. Coast Guard.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday that the ship would not be allowed to come ashore until all passengers were “appropriately” assessed.
The Grand Princess is expected to kick off Vancouver Island's 2020 cruise season and is scheduled to arrive in Victoria on April. 3, as part of a voyage from Vancouver to San Francisco.
Ian Robertson, CEO of the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) says that organization is monitoring the situation closely and is in contact with provincial health authorities.
“Well I can say we are monitoring the entire situation very, very closely,” said Robertson.
“What we do know is that at this point in time the ship is still scheduled to arrive in Victoria and until we hear differently, we will go with that information.”
Robertson, who is currently in London attending an international cruise ship convention, says that the GVHA will adhere to standards set by the cruise ship industry, which he says are very stringent.
“I’m in London now and I’ve got a 10-hour flight back to Victoria and I can tell you that the plane that I will get on will certainly not be cleaned and cleansed to the degree that a cruise will be.”
Meanwhile, during a news conference Thursday, B.C. health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that the province is in communication with the federal government on travel protocols for people entering the country.
“Is it enough to screen people aboard the crews? Is that working?” said Henry. “I think that a whole variety of options are available and all of those will be in place before the start of the [tourism] season.”
With files from The Associated Press.