Costa cruise resumes disembarking passengers in Italy; Ruby Princess guests to quarantine

Morgan Hines, USA TODAY

While many major cruise operators are idling their fleets in response to the coronavirus pandemic, some ships are still at sea or trying to find a port as they deal with fears that passengers or crew may have become infected with COVID-19.

Some ship have passengers aboard who either tested positive for COVID-19 or have coronavirus-related symptoms. Others have no reported cases, yet are being turned away from ports overseas.

"This is a highly fluid situation, with numbers changing by the hour as cruise ships around the world are completing their voyages," Bari Golin-Blaugrund, senior director of strategic communications at Cruise Lines International Association, the industry's leading trade organization, told USA TODAY Thursday.

Costa Luminosa begins disembarking remaining guests in Italy

On Saturday, the Costa Luminosa cruise ship, which had at least three confirmed cases of coronavirus aboard, continued its disembarkation process in Savona, Italy. The ship has been allowed to dock despite the country being in a state of lockdown, issued on March 9.

"Costa Luminosa is currently docked in the port of Savona where the maritime authorities are carrying out health checks," Costa Cruises said in a statement Saturday provided by Rossella Carrara, vice president of external relations and sustainability.

The Italian cruise line said that 198 guests (113 Italian and 85 Swiss passengers) had disembarked, out of 716 total. The process will resume Sunday.

"The company is guaranteeing maximum collaboration and availability to the Crisis Committee managed by the Civil Protection and the Prefecture of Savona, which will define the protocol to be followed for disembarking operations," the cruise line said. 

On Friday, 721 people had left the ship during a stop in Marseilles, France, including French, German, Austrian, American and Canadian passengers.

The same day, a jet carrying 359 people, including American and Canadian passengers, landed at Atlanta’s international airport as emergency responders prepared to screen them for the coronavirus, federal officials said.

Three people on the flight have tested positive for COVID-19 but had no symptoms, while 13 others are sick but haven’t been tested, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Friday.

Some passengers complained that there were no medical personnel provided by the cruise company or the U.S. government and that they were not given much food in 24 hours. 

Earlier in the week, Costa Luminosa was denied permission to disembark its more than 1,400 passengers in Spain.

The company, which is owned by Carnival Corp., said that three Costa Luminosa passengers who were removed from the ship in the Cayman Islands and Puerto Rico have tested positive for COVID-19, including a 68-year-old man who died last weekend. On Monday, two passengers who had problems breathing and one who had a fever were transported from the ship to the hospital when it stopped for provisions in the Canary Islands, a autonomous Spanish territory off the coast of Morocco.

On Thursday, Costa Cruises told USA TODAY in an email there were five passengers and two crew members with "flu-like" symptoms on the ship. 

Officials alerting Ruby Princess passengers others tested positive

A third Princess Cruise ship has become subject to the chaos of coronavirus. 

After two members of the Princess Cruises fleet, Diamond Princess and Grand Princess, were forced into quarantine as a result of the rampant virus, Ruby Princess' former passengers now have to worry that they too could have been exposed to COVID-19.

Passengers on the Ruby Princess, including approximately 570 Americans, disembarked Thursday in Sydney, Australia, and the cruise line announced Friday four people, including three guests and a crew member, who had traveled on the ship, tested positive for COVID-19. 

All four people reported flu-like symptoms during the cruise and were in isolation on board with their travel companions.

Now, all former passengers are being asked to self-quarantine for 14 days, according to a statement from the cruise line provided by spokesperson Negin Kamali. 

The ship can hold up to 3,080 guests and 1,200 crew members, according to the Princess Cruises website.

"Ruby Princess had returned to Sydney in accordance with the Australian Government’s arrangements for cruise ships to return and disembark guests at the ports where their cruises began," Kamali told USA TODAY in an email.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus: Costa cruise disembarks in Italy; Ruby Princess update