Coral Princess cruise ship, with two dead people aboard, docks at Port Miami
By ALEX HARRIS AND RESHMA KIRPALANI | Miami Herald | Published: April 4, 2020
Stars and Stripes is making stories on the coronavirus pandemic available free of charge. See other free reports here. Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter here. Please support our journalism with a subscription.
MIAMI — Two people have died aboard the Coral Princess cruise ship, which docked in Port Miami on Saturday morning.
The captain announced the updates to passengers Saturday, said Shannon Kilbane, a passenger from California.
Princess Cruises, a subsidiary of Miami-based Carnival Corp., confirmed in a statement the ship was headed to Miami on Saturday but did not mention the deaths aboard.
“Disembarkation for guests who are fit to fly is anticipated to begin on Sunday, April 5. These guests will transfer direct from the ship to Miami International Airport for flights home,” the statement read. “Those with any respiratory symptoms, or who are still recovering from being ill previously, will remain on board until medically cleared by the ship’s doctors.”
Passengers were given a health screening form that asked if they had a fever, cough or difficulty breathing. Some were given forms that said they could get off the ship as soon as 1:30 p.m.
In a Saturday afternoon press conference, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said two people were taken from the ship to Larkin Community Hospital.
There are 1,898 people on the ship, including 1,020 passengers and 878 crew. Princess Cruises said in a statement Thursday that seven passengers and five crew members tested positive after the ship dropped off samples in Barbados on March 31.
The ship began its journey on March 5 in San Antonio, Chile, and Kilbane said passengers haven’t been allowed on land since March 13.
“We have gone through this drill several times where we’ve packed our bags,” Kilbane said. “I just want to get off the ship, on a plane and home to my family.”
Paul Nahm, whose parents are on board and sick, is worried they won’t pass a medical check and be cleared to fly home to New York.
His mother, 72-year-old Grace Nahm, got sick first, then his dad, 71-year-old Peter Nahm.
They were both tested for COVID-19. Peter’s test came back positive first, but they’re still waiting on Grace’s test.
Princess told Paul it’s because they sent his dad’s tests, along with 11 others, to Barbados and sent his mom’s test to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
Paul said last night, his parents put him on speakerphone as a crew member came into their cabin and tried to separate them into different rooms. His parents were panicking, he said, because Peter hadn’t gotten any medical care in three days and only ate and drank because his wife helped him.
The crew member eventually agreed to not separate the couple, but told them they needed to sign a waiver accepting the risk. The crew member told his parents that if they signed the waiver they would not receive medical care on the ship going forward.
Paul called it “atrocious” and said he’s complained to Princess Cruises for days.
“The only reason Princess gets back to me is because I’m blowing up Twitter,” he said. “They say ‘please can you keep it to DM.’”
Spokesman Jason Neiman told the Miami Herald the Coast Guard has given the Coral Princess permission to enter U.S. waters and arrive at the Port of Miami.
The Coral Princess was previously turned away from a scheduled docking at Port Everglades on Saturday. The company announced the shift early in the morning, then later the Coast Guard posted an order barring the ship from entering U.S. territorial waters until it had an approved plan for disembarking passengers.
Miami Herald reporter Douglas Hanks contributed to this report.