2 Cruise Ships With Sick People on Board Held Off Florida Shore

March 26, 2020 Updated: March 26, 2020

Two cruise ships with people on board with influenza-like symptoms are being held off the coast of Florida as the U.S. Coast Guard helped evacuate the sick people from the vessels.

The Coast Guard Captain of the Port, Sector Miami, issued an order Thursday that both vessels need to remain three miles offshore, according to PortMiami.

The ships must “refrain from any personnel transfer operations while the Unified Command approves the ship’s disembarkation plan for the sick crew members,” a statement said.

The command includes the Coast Guard, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other agencies.

Pictures later showed first responders evacuating sick crew members ashore. They were being taken to hospitals in the area. The first responders are specially trained to conduct transport of highly infectious disease patients from any point to airports or a designated treatment hospital.

Epoch Times Photo
First responders evacuate sick crew members with flu-like symptoms from two cruise ships, the Costa Favolosa and Costa Magica at U.S. Coast Guard station at Port of Miami after the Florida Department of Health reported more than 2,300 confirmed cases of the CCP virus, in Miami, Florida on March 26, 2020. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

The Costa Cruises ships, the Favolosa and the Magica, had roughly 30 cases of flu-like illnesses onboard, a spokesman for Carnival Corporation, which owns Costa, told The Epoch Times in an email earlier in the day.

A Carnival spokesperson told the Miami Herald that passengers that were on the ship disembarked in Guadeloupe and Martinique before flying home. At least eight people who were on board the ships have since tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP virus.

The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus, which first appeared in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.

Some 1,009 crew members remain on board the Favolosa and 930 workers remain on board the Magica, the company said.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to the flu and include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Epoch Times Photo
Members of a cleaning crew are seen while working on a cruse ship at Port of Miami after the Florida Department of Health reported more than 2300 confirmed cases of CCP virus in Miami, Florida on March 26, 2020. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

PortMiami, where the ships are headed, did not respond to a request for comment. In a statement earlier in the week, the port said it’s operating under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for preventative measures against the new illness.

It also said that it is accepting cruise ships returning for the next month but will review each ship on a case-by-case basis along with the U.S. Coast Guard and CDC.

“Miami-Dade County has been waiving all lay berth fees for home-ported vessels that request to berth alongside the port in the next 30 days. Working with its cruise partners, PortMiami stands ready to provide any additional assistance,” it stated.

A third cruise ship is also headed to Florida, Holland America’s Zaandam.

A total of 42 passengers and crew members on board that ship have influenza-like symptoms, the company said this week, out of 1,243 passengers and 586 crew members on board.

The MS Zaandam at sea. (Courtesy of Holland America)

“Our intention is to proceed to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for arrival on March 30, however plans are still being finalized. Alternative options also are being developed,” it said on Tuesday.

Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale is currently open and operational, according to its website. A “unified command” had been put into place and cruise ships entering the port require concurrent approvals from a number of agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Coast Guard.

The port didn’t respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman told a local outlet that the command would make a decision later on whether to let the ship dock.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment on the three ships.

Cruise lines suspended travel over the pandemic earlier this month but dozens of ships were already out at sea and some have not yet disembarked everyone on board.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber