Stricken Grand Princess docked off the Bay Area as COVID had struck. Now it’s back to sea

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The Grand Princess cruise ship, which gained international attention when it docked in the Bay Area at the start of the pandemic with a heartbreaking COVID outbreak, has returned to sea after a year-long hiatus and half.

The ship left the Port of Los Angeles on Saturday for a five-day trip to Cabo San Lucas.

The crisis aboard the Grand Princess, which took place for days off the coast of San Francisco in March 2020 with several thousand passengers and crew quarantined on board, helped bring the pandemic to reality. at home for millions of people in the United States.

The ship had embarked on a 10-day trip from San Francisco to Mexico on February 11, 2020, returning on February 21. A 71-year-old man on the ship tested positive for the coronavirus 10 days later and died on March 4. Another passenger from Sonoma County also tested positive.

By the time public health officials linked the two passengers to the cruise ship, the Grand Princess was again at sea carrying 3,500 people on the 15-day trip to Hawaii, but was recalled due virus problems. On March 5, California Air National Guard soldiers rappelled to the ship with test kits, and initial tests showed 21 were infected.

The Grand Princess departs the Port of Oakland and travels from San Francisco to Hunters Point on March 16, 2020.

Paul Kuroda / The Chronicle Special

In the second week of March, the ship docked at the Port of Oakland with critically ill patients being evacuated first. The others were sent to quarantine for two weeks at Travis Air Base, where evacuees from Wuhan, China, the original site of the pandemic, had been quarantined a month earlier. Passengers reported cramped conditions on the boat and “substandard” food at the base.

More than 100 people on the ship eventually tested positive and at least seven have died. The Princess Cruises cruise line and its owner, Carnival Corp., have come under heavy criticism and legal action following the incident.

As the cruise ships departed, operations changed dramatically. Princess Cruises requires all guests to provide full proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test performed within two days of departure. The crew is also vaccinated and occupancy does not exceed 75% of the vessel’s 2,600 passenger capacity, KTLA reported.

According to the cruise line, customers are required to wear masks in elevators, designated indoor entertainment areas, retail stores, in the casino, except when eating or drinking, and in restaurants prior to going. Sit.

Carnival reports losing $ 18 billion during the pandemic, but saw bookings for the second half of 2022 exceed 2019 rates, according to the LA Times.

The departure of the Grand Princess marked the first time a cruise ship has sailed from the Port of Los Angeles since the pandemic began in March 2020, NBC Los Angeles reported.

Kellie Hwang is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @KellieHwang

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