OAKLAND, Calif., March 9 (Reuters) – The cruise ship Grand Princess, barred last week from returning to its home port of San Francisco and facing quarantine due to a coronavirus outbreak on board, arrived at a temporary berth on Monday in the nearby Port of Oakland to the cheers of its passengers.
The 2,400 cruise guests, who have been largely confined to their staterooms since Thursday, are to begin disembarking on Monday for transport to healthcare facilities or quarantine stations, depending on whether they need immediate medical attention.
Except for those with acute illness, the 1,100 crew members are to remain aboard the vessel, which will depart the Port of Oakland as soon as possible to be quarantined for two weeks in an as-yet undisclosed location outside San Francisco Bay, officials said.
Video footage shot by one of the arriving cruise guests and shared with Reuters showed passengers cheering from their stateroom balconies and open windows, some shouting, “We’re home!” as the vessel passed beneath the Golden Gate Bridge into the bay.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Sunday the U.S. government was arranging to repatriate foreign cruise passengers by charter flights to their home countries.
He said those individuals would be ferried on special buses to a non-commercial terminal at Oakland International Airport to board planes from the tarmac to avoid contact with the public.
The Port of Oakland, located across San Francisco Bay from the vessel’s home berth, was chosen because it was one of few in the region able to accommodate a large cruise liner and was deemed relatively easy to seal off while passengers are unloaded and moved elsewhere, Newsom said.
The temporary berth was prepared on a secured 10-acre site in the outer harbor area for the ship’s arrival. (Reporting by Nathan Frandino in Oakland, California; Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles Editing by Leslie Adler and Sonya Hepinstall)(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.