WEDNESDAY 8:15 P.M. UPDATE:
The Celebrity Silhouette docked at Port Everglades Wednesday evening, after receiving permission from the U.S. Coast Guard.
It was cleared for entry when the Coast Guard confirmed that adequate safety measures would be taken with the sick crew members on board. In addition, only healthy crew members will be taken directly to Miami International Airport for international flights.
Another ship, the Caribbean Princess, still must provide more information before receiving permission to enter the U.S.
Two more cruise ships with sick people aboard are on their way to South Florida.
The Celebrity Silhouette and Caribbean Princess have several crew members who are experiencing flu-like symptoms.
Four of the Silhouette’s crew members are sick but in stable condition. They have been placed in isolation, but have not been tested for the coronavirus.
The Caribbean Princess also has at least one crew member in isolation because of a flu-like illness.
Meanwhile, a debate has ensued in recent days about whether ships with sick people should be allowed to dock at Port Everglades.
Some say ships docking could spread disease and overcrowd the region’s hospitals, while those in favor of allowing ships to dock mention compassion for the sick.
Broward County commissioners are still reviewing whether to allow two Holland America cruise ships to dock at the port.
One of those ships, the Zaandam, had four people die, in addition to nearly 200 who became sick.
The commissioners’ decision is still pending. A meeting is being considered for Thursday morning before the ships are scheduled to arrive.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had originally been against allowing the Zaandam to dock. On Wednesday, however, he proposed the possibility of letting Floridians to disembark from the ship, and having officials determine a solution for the other passengers
He added, “I obviously am not in control of the port. That’s run by the counties in southern Florida, in this case Broward County. Clearly, we’re going to be willing to accept any Floridians who are on board. My understanding is that most of the passengers are foreign nationals.”
Celebrity Silhouette and Caribbean Princess, neither of which have passengers aboard, planned to enter Port Everglades later Wednesday, according to Glenn Wiltshire, acting port director.
The Coast Guard had initially denied the Celebrity Silhouette’s request to enter American waters, but later cleared the ship for entry when the Coast Guard confirmed that adequate safety measures would be taken. In addition, only healthy crew members will be taken directly to Miami International Airport for international flights.
However, the Caribbean Princess still must provide more information before receiving permission to enter the U.S.
The Unified Command, which is comprised of the Broward Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Border Patrol and U.S. Coast Guard, plans to meet by conference call late Wednesday to review any additional information submitted by the Princess. In the meantime, the vessel will remain offshore until a plan acceptable to the Unified Command is submitted and approved,” reads a statement from officials.
No vote today on Zaandam/Rotterdam coming to @PortEverglades. Unified Command says more work has to be done on plans submitted by Holland America. Cruise line will work to create a suitable plan. You can find a list of conditions https://t.co/IxN1o71ktr
— Broward County Commission (@browardinfo) March 31, 2020
The new U.S. Coast Guard rules outlined in a memo are required for ships in the district that covers Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Puerto Rico. The document adds that any foreign-flagged vessels “that loiter beyond U.S. territorial seas” should first try to medically evacuate any “very sick” passengers to those countries instead.
The rules, which apply to all vessels carrying more than 50 people, were issued in a March 29 safety bulletin signed by Coast Guard Rear Admiral E.C. Jones, head of the seventh district. Prior to the bulletin, all ships heading to U.S. ports were required to provide daily updates on their coronavirus caseload or face civil penalties or criminal prosecution.
Other ships with pending arrivals reportedly include Princess Cruises’ Coral Princess, which is carrying a “higher-than-normal” number of passengers with flu-like symptoms, according to the cruise line. It is scheduled to arrive at Port Everglades on Saturday.
Princess Cruises adds that many of its sick passengers have tested positive for regular flu, adding that due to the concern over the coronavirus, “guests have been asked to self-isolate in their staterooms and all meals will now be delivered by room service.” In addition, crew members who are not on shift will remain in their staterooms.