The Caribbean Princess cruise ship cancelled its call to Grand Cayman on Monday amid coronavirus concerns, after offloading two critically ill passengers.
Acting Port Authority Director Joseph Woods, in a statement, said that the ship anchored in Grand Cayman Monday morning, as scheduled, but opted not disembark passengers.
“As they were unsure if someone on board could have possibly been exposed to someone who did [have coronavirus], out of an abundance of caution, and of their own volition, they decided to cancel the call,” he said.
Both of the sick passengers were transferred from the ship by ambulance. In a statement issued Monday, health officials in Cayman said one of the two passengers had an “immediate life-threatening” condition and was in urgent need of critical medical attention, so waiting for an air ambulance was not advised. The patient was taken to Health City Cayman Islands for emergency treatment under isolation.
“This passenger is suffering from a gastrointestinal haemorrhage (internal bleeding) and severe hypotension (low blood pressure) and does not have any respiratory symptoms. The other person was taken directly to the Owen Roberts International Airport for travel to the USA by air ambulance,” according to the statement.
No other passengers from the ship disembarked in Cayman on Monday. The ship has a 3,100-passenger capacity.
Woods, commenting on Caribbean Princess’ cancellation, said, “Their decision to cancel the call speaks to the integrity of the cruise lines that call here and the respect and value they place on their relationship with the Cayman Islands. That close relationship and respect between us pays off in circumstances like this when they would rather cancel a call than take a chance, and we really appreciate that. We all pledge to do our very best to keep the Cayman Islands free of the coronavirus COVID-19.”
According to US media reports, the ship received a no-sail order from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is heading back to US waters.
It is the second Fort Lauderdale-based cruise ship to receive such an order from the CDC, according to the Miami Herald.
A Port Authority Cayman Islands statement noted, “These two passengers will be transported directly to the airport for medical evacuation to Florida. Some clinical samples will also be travelling with them. All appropriate measures are being undertaken to ensure the safety of staff involved, and the vehicles being deployed. Ambulance crews routinely manage patients who have infectious conditions and are aware of the required action.”
Woods said there is no one on board known to be suffering from the symptoms of coronavirus.
He said the Port Authority, Customs and Border Control, Public Health, government ministries, and the cruise lines all work in close collaboration with each other.
Health Minister Dwayne Seymour, commenting on the situation, said his ministry was aware of the Caribbean Princess cruise line being in port Monday.
He said the ministry reiterated the position “for absolute clarity and in the interest of the public’s health and safety, that no passengers are disembarking from the Caribbean Princess cruise ship into Grand Cayman today”.
Editor’s note: In an earlier version of this story, the Port Authority had indicated that both passengers were airlifted to Florida. A later release corrected this, saying that one patient was airlifted, while the other was taken to Health City Cayman Islands for emergency treatment under isolation.