Barred from Miami hotels, 13 Coral Princess passengers will stay on ship for 14 more days

Tribune Content Agency

MIAMI — Barred from transferring to Miami hotels, 13 passengers on the Coral Princess cruise ship will remain on board for another 14 days, the cruise company said in a statement Thursday evening.

Travel restrictions are preventing the passengers from getting charter flights home, and local authorities will not allow them to stay in hotels, the company said. Meanwhile, seven Coral Princess crew members with COVID-19 symptoms were transferred to four local hospitals Thursday, according to a report from the Miami-Dade emergency management system.

The ship left PortMiami at around 6:45 p.m. EDT Thursday.

Among the stranded travelers are Juan Pablo Rueda, 66, and Maria Isabella Ardila, 61, from Colombia, who say they do not have any COVID-19 symptoms. They were hoping to leave on one of the charter flights to South America on Thursday but remain stuck on board.

All crew members will remain on board until Princess Cruises works out a plan to get them home. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment about how many people still on board have COVID-19 symptoms.

It was not immediately clear which local authority barred the stranded passengers from booking hotel rooms.

An order from Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez allows hotels to accept reservations from displaced visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic. The mayor’s office and the Florida Department of Health did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the discrepancy.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned against the kind of ship quarantine done on the Diamond Princess in Japan, where passengers and crew remained on board for 14 days and hundreds were infected. The agency did not respond to a request for comment Thursday about the Coral Princess.

The ship originally left Chile on March 5. Passengers were supposed to disembark in Argentina on March 19, but the ship had to sail north after the Argentine government allowed only citizens to disembark there.

At least seven passengers and five crew tested positive for COVID-19 before the ship docked at PortMiami on Saturday. Two had died.

Since then, at least 37 people from the ship have been hospitalized in Florida. One passenger, Wilson Maa, 71, of San Francisco died at Larkin Community hospital in Hialeah after waiting nearly five hours for an ambulance from the ship Saturday night.


(Miami Herald reporter Douglas Hanks contributed to this report.)


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