The Coral Princess cruise ship finally docked in Miami over the weekend after spending nearly a month at sea, and by the end of the journey, two passengers had died of the coronavirus and another died on the way to the hospital.
The ship arrived Saturday at PortMiami with 1,898 people on board, including 1,020 guests and 878 crew members. On Thursday, the cruise line announced that it had confirmed at least 12 positive cases – seven guests and five crew members – on board.
They began evacuating sick passengers, but two passengers had already died on board from coronavirus, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said.
“I want to offer my condolences to the families of the loved ones of the two people who died from Covid-19 on that ship. It is heartbreaking news,” Gimenez said Saturday.
“Our hearts go out to their family, friends and all who are impacted by this loss,” the cruise line said in a statement released to news media on Saturday. CNN has reached out for comment following the third death but has not yet heard back.
The third passenger from the Coral Princess cruise ship died after being transported by a private ambulance to a hospital in Hialeah, Florida, late Saturday night, according to a news release from Gimenez’s office on Sunday.
Five other passengers were transported from the ship prior to the death. Two of them were taken to Larkin Hospital by ambulance in critical condition while three others were taken to Tampa to receive treatment in a hospital, the release said.
New rules for cruises during pandemic
Just a day after the cruise ship docked, the Department of Homeland Security and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new restrictions that keeps cruise ship passengers and crew arriving in the US from boarding domestic commercial flights.
The restrictions apply even to people not showing symptoms and also require 14-day quarantines for cruise passengers and crew. Instead, cruise passengers and crew will have to fly on charter aircraft or use private transportation.
The decision comes after hundreds of arriving Holland America Line cruise passengers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, were allowed to fly on commercial airliners, raising concerns from other fliers. Four passengers died on one ship during the cruise and a number of people were diagnosed with coronavirus.
The CDC and Florida officials said disembarking passengers were screened before being allowed to leave ports of entry. Sick passengers remained in Florida.
A spokesperson for Carnival Corporation, the parent company of Princess Cruises, said the company is addressing the new restrictions.
“Princess Cruises is working around the clock to arrange small group charters and individual car transport for its U.S. guests to comply with the updated CDC guidelines in order to disembark a wide number of guests from the ship,” they said in a statement. “Princess has already begun the process with an earlier charter flight already underway – that included individuals from California – and additional charter flights scheduled for later tonight that include international guests.”
The ship spent nearly a month at sea
The Coral Princess cruise ship spent nearly a month at sea after departing from Santiago, Chile, on March 5 for a South American cruise.
It was supposed to dock in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 19. Instead, ports around the world shut down disembarkation of cruise ships and cruise lines announced they were suspending operations globally due to the coronavirus outbreak.
It was announced Saturday that while the most serious cases would be taken to the hospital, some passengers would remain on the ship to receive medical treatment.
On Sunday, Mayor Gimenez sent medical staff, including a doctor and nurses to the ship to help.
Eight more passengers were taken to local hospitals in unknown condition, according to the release.
The county also replaced the ship’s oxygen cylinders with full ones after learning the supply on board was critically low, the release said.
The ship is required to report passenger condition information to federal agencies including the CDC, Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Coast Guard, in order to have passengers offloaded, the release said.
On Saturday, Princess Cruises said in a statement that healthy passengers cleared to leave the ship would be disembarked and flown back to their homes.
However, the process of disembarking and flying out could take several days, the statement said.
CNN’s Eric Levenson, Melissa Alonso, Jason Hanna, Evan Perez and Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report