Several extraordinary stories have come out in the last couple of days, made all the more extraordinary amid extraordinary times, about cruise ships that are still sailing the seas despite everything everyone should have learned well over 30 days ago about cruise ships being coronavirus vectors.
In one story, the Celebrity Eclipse is being allowed to disembark passengers in San Diego despite reporting Tuesday that one passenger has already tested positive for the virus. As NBC San Diego reports, "It's the last ship that's allowed to drop off passengers in the city... [and] Passengers will be screened prior to their departure and only those who have no symptoms or fever will be released." All passengers are then being told to self-quarantine. There's another cruise ship sitting just outside the Port of San Diego, the Celebrity Millennium, and it's not being allowed to let any passengers off — it's only being allowed to dock for supplies.
Then there's the Holland America Line ship, the Zaandam, which was refused entry in Chile two weeks ago, and now has four dead passengers on board. As the New York Times reported over the weekend, the ship had 53 passengers and 85 crew members aboard showing symptoms of the coronavirus, and it was initially denied passage through the Panama Canal as well, en route to Florida.
Now, as the Associated Press reports, the Zaandam has cleared the canal and will soon join more than two dozen ships sitting off the Florida coast, some with sick and/or confirmed infected passengers on them. Nine people on the Zaandam have now tested positive for COVID-19. Another Holland America ship, the Rotterdam, is also headed to Florida, and between the two ships there are 300 American passengers on board.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday that he did not want the Zaandam docking in Florida because the state's healthcare system was already overwhelmed and could not handle the new caseload. President Trump, meanwhile, who has spent a large portion of his presidency at his golf resort in Florida, later responded saying of the Zaandam, "They're dying on the ship. I'm going to do what's right. Not only for us, but for humanity."
It remains unclear where the ship will be allowed to dock — and only weeks after the president made great drama out of the Grand Princess and the quarantining of its passengers and crew when it landed in the Bay Area. The AP reports that the Coast Guard is holding two dozen ships offshore at Port Miami and Port Everglades, most with only crew on board, and some may be turned back to their country of registration — which in many cases is the Bahamas.
As the Miami Herald reports, hospitals in Miami received sick crew members from two Costa Cruise ships, the Magica and Favolosa, last week, after they were refused entry to the Caribbean. Both ships had only crew left aboard, but some 30 crew members had been showing flu-like symptoms.
Here's the biggest question: Who got on a cruise ship in March after all of those horror stories!? The Diamond Princess debacle dates back to early February, and the Grand Princess situation was unfolding in the first days of March. Carnival Cruise Lines, remarkably, still has 6,000 passengers at sea, as it reported to the SEC on Tuesday.
Below is Bill Maher's editorial calling for "an end to cruise ships" back in mid-March.