LONG BEACH (CBSLA) – Cruise ship passengers departing from Long Beach are not letting the coronavirus spoil their dream vacation.
The Carnival Imagination set sail from Long Beach Thursday, headed for Mexico with more than 2,000 passengers on board. It is one of many cruise ships still packing on passengers, despite several cases of coronavirus on other cruise ships, including the Grand Princess in San Francisco.
Some of those who boarded today opted to take extra precautions, rather than cancel their trips.
“[We packed] alcohol, extra wipes,” said Cici Matthews, who boarded the ship today with her two sisters. The Matthews sisters are not alone in stuffing their suitcases full of supplies to combat the spread of the virus.
“We brought a bunch of Clorox wipes,” said one passenger.
California Governor Gavin Newsom called a State of Emergency Wednesday “to make additional resources available, formalize emergency actions already underway across multiple state agencies and departments, and help the state prepare for broader spread of COVID-19,” according to his office.
The news came as California confirmed its first death due to the virus: a 71-year-old man from northern California.
According to the CDC, the man had just returned from Mexico aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship that left San Francisco February 11, stopped at four ports in Mexico, then returned to San Francisco February 21. He and most of the other passengers got off the ship but 62 others at risk of infection remained on-board to cruise to the Hawaii islands. The ship stopped at four ports there.
On Wednesday night, that ship sat docked off the coast of northern California until passengers and crew were tested for COVID-19.
In a statement issued Wednesday night from Princess Cruises, a spokesperson said: “In an abundance of caution, these guests and other potential close crew contacts have been asked to remain in their staterooms until screened by our on-board medical team. The safety, health and well-being of our guests and crew is always our top priority.”
Even as cases detected on cruise ships continue to grow, passengers aboard the nearly full Carnival Imagination said the possible spread of coronavirus doesn’t worry them.
“If you’re going to get it, you’re going to get it. If you’re not, you’re not,” another passenger said. “Just take precautions.”
Eric Demello said he decided to go through with his vacation aboard the Carnival Imagination because of the cruise line’s precautionary measures to keep passengers safe.
“They’re taking a lot of precautions, a lot of proactive measures with sanitization, [and] cautioning people that if they were exhibiting any signs or symptoms of illness they were subject to screenings and could be denied access,” he said. “So, they’re being smart about it.”
The cruise line will provide several options for those who want to reschedule their voyage due to health concerns, it said in a letter Thursday.
Guests who booked prior to March 6, 2020, and are scheduled to set sail between now and May 31 can move their booking to a new date. Those who are to depart in the month of March will be allowed to reschedule within three days of the sail date, while those who are set to sail starting April 1 must change their booking by March 31.
Any guests who choose to still set sail between now and May 31 will receive between $100 to $200 in onboard credit for keeping their reservation.
Carnival’s next cruise departs out of Long Beach Friday.