A cruise ship that played host to a devastating COVID outbreak in 2020 that resulted in more than 900 infections and 28 deaths is has reportedly allowed a dozen infected passengers to disembark at San Francisco.
The Ruby Princess became notorious at the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 when it docked in Sydney, Australia, and all of its passengers were allowed to disembark despite the disease being rife on board, which led to a criminal inquiry of the “plague ship.”
The same ship docked in San Francisco on Thursday after a 10-day New Years party voyage—to Mexico and back—ended in a dozen passengers testing positive on board. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the city’s port confirmed that a total of 724 passengers have left the ship, including the 12 passengers who returned positive test results.
“All individuals are either asymptomatic or experiencing mild symptoms. No passenger has required medical attention and no hospitalization is needed,” the port said in a statement. Princess Cruises said “guests who tested positive will either return home via their personal vehicles or be taken to hotels coordinated in advance for quarantine.”
The positive cases came to light after, under a local health mandate, the cruise line randomly tested 25 percent of all passengers who planned to leave the ship at San Francisco, returning a dozen positive results. Negin Kamali, a spokesperson for Princess Cruises, said vaccination rates among guests on the Ruby Princess were “approaching 100 percent.”
But a woman on board claimed the outbreak was identified earlier among the performers on the cruise, leading to canceled shows and in-cabin quarantines. “It was kind of disturbing that there wasn’t more widespread announcements about that… I think the only reason they announced that is because the shows were canceled,” Diane Castillo told NBC News.
KTVU reported late Thursday that the ship has already left San Francisco on its latest voyage to Mexico. One passenger who spoke to the network said: “My name is Sharon ‘Get Me On a Ship’ Pettis... I feel very safe on a ship because everybody is very responsible. The food situation is handled beautifully. They follow all the rules really stringently.”
Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that all 92 cruise ships with passengers in U.S. waters had confirmed positive COVID-19 cases on board. The CDC recommends that all cruise travel should be avoided regardless of vaccine status.