Four cruise passengers test negative for coronavirus on ship in New Jersey

Anthony Zurita, David M. Zimmer and Julia Thompson, USA TODAY
Four cruise passengers test negative for coronavirus on ship in New Jersey

Passengers on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship docked in Bayonne, New Jersey, due to concerns over the novel coronavirus had their fears put to rest Saturday night.

Gov. Phil Murphy tweeted that four passengers sent to the hospital tested negative for coronavirus, reports NorthJersey.com, which is part of the USA TODAY Network. 

"All four passengers from the cruise ship docked in Bayonne tested negative for novel coronavirus. New Jersey currently has no confirmed cases of novel coronavirus and the risk to residents remains low."

Three of the four people stayed in a cabin together and were diagnosed with the flu. The other person stayed in a separate cabin and did not have any symptoms, Murphy said.

The respiratory illness has killed more than 800 people in China, where the outbreak began late last year, according to the World Health Organization, and there are now more than 37,000 cases worldwide.

The passengers were tested after their cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas, docked and screened 27 passengers who had recently traveled from mainland China. The cruise ship had left Cape Liberty on Jan. 27 for an 11-day cruise to the Caribbean.

Officials said 23 passengers were cleared, all Chinese nationals, and taken to Newark Liberty International Airport for a flight back to China.

Earlier Saturday, Royal Caribbean officials said the ship would remain at Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne until Monday to “have conclusive results before sailing.”

Royal Caribbean said in a post on its website that boarding would begin Sunday and continue Monday morning. Instead of sailing to the Bahamas as originally planned, the ship will head to Bermuda instead because of the condensed itinerary. 

"We know how much you were looking forward to beginning your vacation, and we cannot apologize enough for the impact this situation has caused," the cruise line said in the post.

Those who go on the trip will get a 50% refund as a refundable onboard credit and a 50% cruise credit to use on a future cruise, plus any packages purchased ahead of the cruise will be prorated. 

The cruise line also noted that those who booked the cruise but choose not to sail will receive a full refund. "We completely understand," the post said. "If you do not show up to the pier, we will understand that you decided not join us and we will automatically process your refund."

Other cruise ships affected by coronavirus

Meanwhile, Princess Cruises' Diamond Princess cruise ship that is quarantined off the coast of Japan, now has 69 passengers who have been diagnosed with coronavirus. The ship is under quarantine until Feb. 19. 

And Holland America's MS Westerdam cruise ship is one step closer to disembarkation this week.

The Westerdam, which has 1,455 guests and 802 crew members, made a stop in Hong Kong last week. It was subsequently  denied entry to ports in Guam, the Philippines and Japan. 

There are no known cases of coronavirus on board despite reports to the contrary, the cruise line said, and the MS Westerdam is not in quarantine. 

Additionally, passengers aboard the World Dream can breathe easier: They've been cleared to disembark Sunday at Hong Kong's Kai Tek Cruise Terminal after tests revealed no one on board had coronavirus.

The ship spent Saturday under quarantine near Hong Kong while it waited for the test results to come back. 

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus: Royal Caribbean passengers test negative in New Jersey