SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — After more than a month of being the focal point of the coronavirus crisis in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Grand Princess cruised under the Golden Gate Bridge Sunday afternoon bound for an undisclosed destination.
The ship has been moored in the San Francisco Bay off the city’s waterfront while serving a 14-day quarantine. The drama surrounding the ship began with a Feb. 11 roundup trip voyage from San Francisco to the Mexican Rivera. Once the passengers departed the boat on Feb. 21, nearly all of them came down with the coronavirus.
One former passenger — a 71-year-old Rocklin man — became the first California resident to die from the disease. A second, a woman in her 70s, also died of the illness, becoming Marin County’s first fatality from COVID-19.
While the February cruise outbreak grew, the ship was on a roundup trip cruise from San Francisco to Hawaii. It was recalled but as it approached the Northern California coast, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he would not allow it to dock anywhere in the state until passengers and crew members with flu-like symptoms were given tests for the coronavirus. 45 were tested, with 19 crew members and two passengers diagnosed with the disease.
The ship lingered off the coast until federal, state and local officials agreed to allow it to dock under heavy security at the Port of Oakland on March 9.
Looking out his window, Eddie Castellano, a passenger onboard from Miami, told KPIX 5 in the telephone interview that the dockside was filled with military personnel and ambulances.
“I see some military outside the ship right now,” he said. “I see a lot of military. I see a lot of ambulances… It looks like a war zone. I’m terrified. I’m not going to lie to you. I’ve never been through something like this in my life before…I’m worried about the 3,000 people on this boat and their health.”
The majority of the 2,000-plus passengers aboard and hundreds of crew members were allowed off the boat in waves over a five-day stretch. They were examined for any sign of the illness in medical tents on the dock. The American passengers were taken to one of four military bases across the county for a 14-day quarantine period. The foreign nationals were returned to their home county.
More than 20 tested positive for the illness and were distributed to hospitals and care sites around Northern California.
According to a statement released by Health and Human Services officials last week, two passengers who departed the boat died as a result of complications from a coronavirus infection.
One of the passengers had been taken directly to a local hospital from the ship, federal officials said, while a second died after being quarantined among the Northern California passengers at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield. Both were men in their 60s.
Few other details about the deaths were released, but federal authorities did say one died on March 21 and the other passed away on March 23. The hospitals where the deaths occurred were not released.
A Filipino crew member also was taken to a local hospital for treatment, but succumbed to the illness.
On Sunday night, a cruise ship tracking website showed the ship with its remaining crewmembers heading southward off the Monterey coast. The cruise line did not disclose its destination.