There are now at least four cruise ships affected by the coronavirus outbreak, with two under quarantine in Japan and Hong Kong, while a third is being denied entry to ports across the East China Sea and a fourth in the United States is being investigated by the CDC.
Diamond Princess remains under quarantine in Yokohama, Japan with 3,700 people onboard, more than 60 of whom have tested positive for coronavirus.
The ship has been placed under quarantine for the next two weeks with passengers banned from leaving their cabins.
Those staying in staterooms without a balcony are being allowed to take a walk on the promenade deck under strictly controlled conditions, and all food and supplies are being directly delivered to cabins by crew in hazmat suits.
Princess Cruises in a statement on Twitter thanked its passengers and crew for their understanding. “While we know this is a challenging time for our Diamond Princess guests and crew in Japan, and their loved ones, we want to acknowledge the support and commitment of all onboard,” it said.
(1/2)While we know this is a challenging time for our #DiamondPrincess guests and crew in Japan, and their loved ones, we want to acknowledge the support and commitment of all onboard. Thank you to our guests, who have dealt with a tough situation with grace and understanding.
— Princess Cruises (@PrincessCruises) February 5, 2020
“Thank you to our guests, who have dealt with a tough situation with grace and understanding.”
A second ship, World Dream of the Asian cruise line Dream Cruises, is under a similar quarantine in Hong Kong. Eight of her former passengers have tested positive for coronavirus, according to CNN.
Meanwhile, Holland America Line’s cruise ship Westerdam is in the middle of the East China Sea and unable to find a port to dock in.
The ship was meant to call at a number of ports across the region on a 30-night cruise, but after setting off from Singapore on January 16th all went according to plan until she made a port call in Hong Kong on February 1st, where at least 25 people have tested positive for the virus, with one death.
After calling in Hong Kong, Westerdam was scheduled to call in the Philippines but wasn’t allowed to dock over fears that there may be coronavirus aboard, even though there is no indication that any passengers are sick.
She then briefly docked in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, but then the country announced it would no longer allow international cruise ships to dock in its ports due to fears around the epidemic. She left Kaohsiung and was turned away from Taipei as well.
She is now in what the cruise line has described as a ‘holding pattern’ off the coast of Japan while it works to find a port to disembark passengers. Her future cruise, departing on February 15th, has been cancelled.
“Guests on board Westerdam continue to be fully safe and secure. The ship is currently in a holding pattern off the coast of Japan, southeast of Okinawa, while we are working to finalize a new port of disembarkation,” the cruise line said in a post on Twitter.
1/3: Westerdam Update: Guests on board Westerdam continue to be fully safe and secure. The ship is currently in a holding pattern off the coast of Japan, southeast of Okinawa, while we are working to finalize a new port of disembarkation.
— Holland America Line (@HALcruises) February 7, 2020
The statement added that the ship has sufficient provisions until at least February 15th, when the cruise was scheduled to end, and reiterated that there are no indications of coronavirus on-board.
However, Chinese medical officials have recently discovered that people can carry the virus without showing symptoms for up to two weeks, during which time they remain contagious.
Holland America Line also thanked its passengers and crew for their patience and is providing free telephone and internet access, according to the statement.
In the United States, Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas may become the first US-based cruise ship to suffer coronavirus-related disruption after the CDC confirmed that it has taken four passengers from the ship to hospital, while at least 27 have been tested.
Anthem of the Seas was returning to New Jersey after an 8-night cruise to the Caribbean when four passengers from China were taken off the ship , two of them on stretchers. A further 27 passengers, all from China, have been tested for the virus.
Local officials have said none of the passengers have a recent history of travel to Wuhan in China, where the virus originated.
Twenty-three other Chinese nationals were screened after getting off the ship and showed no symptoms. They were headed to Newark Liberty International Airport for flights back to China on Friday.
A statement from Royal Caribbean said the company is “closely monitoring developments regarding coronavirus and have rigorous medical protocols in place onboard our ships,” adding that it is participating in “elevated levels of guest screening to check the spread of coronavirus.”
While the ship’s next scheduled cruise, another 8-night voyage roundtrip to the Caribbean, is going ahead as planned, it will be delayed by one day due to the disruption, and to allow crew time to conduct a deep clean of the vessel.
Royal Caribbean confirmed with passengers on Twitter that they will be reimbursed for hotel accommodation and other penalties related to last minute changes to travel arrangements.