THE CORONAVIRUS & CRUISE SHIPS IN FLORIDA
Reports of the coronavirus making its way aboard cruise ships and into harbors around the world have been a part of the COVID-19 pandemic since the outbreak; and ships carrying thousands of passengers continue to reach Florida shores. This past Thursday, two ships belonging to Holland America Cruise Line arrived at Fort Lauderdale in Broward County with dozens of reported cases, while Coral Princess docked in Port Miami with two deceased on board. Situations like this raise questions as to the role of cruise line officials and governmental agencies to protect the well-being of passengers, crews, and residents of the ports where these cruise ships disembark.
The most recent ship to dock was the Coral Princess and the mayor of Miami-Dade, Carlos Gimenez, stated that five passengers were taken to local hospital while 38 crew members and 27 passengers remain on-board to receive medical attention to treat their symptoms. The other 1800 passengers and crew will gradually be able to leave for their homes on Sunday aboard specially provided buses. According to Gimenez, those allowed to disembark the Coral Princess must wear masks and remain isolated for two weeks in their homes. The cruise line has charter flights arranged for those needing to travel to faraway destinations within the U.S., Europe and Asia. Gimenez warned that Port Miami may not be able to house other ships coming into port seeking healthcare as hospital system begins to feel the full effect of the coronavirus pandemic. The Coral Princess had traveled to Barbados from Chile with its passengers unable to touch land since March 13. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta is helping with blood samples of passengers to determine whether they are cleared to leave the ship. Meanwhile, panic-stricken passengers expressed their discontent with the way Princess Cruises treated their passengers and handled the situation. The Coast Guard is said to have intervened in delaying the ship’s docking as it prevented the ship from sailing into U.S. waters.
With regards to the Holland America cruise ships, the Zaandam and Rotterdam, they had been moored in a state of oblivion given the close of national borders stemming from the COVID-19 outbreak. The Governor of Florida had been hesitant to allow the docking of ships in local ports at first and the Holland America liners reportedly has some 107 infected passenger and crew on board. Broward County Mayor, Dale Holness stated that foreign and resident passengers that are fit to travel will be flown out of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport this weekend. Local Florida residents allowed to go home will have to remain under quarantine for 14 days, while those infected, including all those with flu-like symptoms, will stay on-board. Critical cases will receive treatment at local healthcare facilities as the CDC determines when those on-board will be able to disembark and head home.
THE RESPONSIBILITY OF CRUISE LINES FOR THE WELL-BEING OF PASSENGERS
Just like hotels and restaurants, cruise ship operators are obliged by law to guarantee safe and hazard-free conditions the well-being of its guests. Passengers aboard cruise ships may fall victim to negligence or wrongdoing on behalf of staff, crew, or operators. In Miami, the Perazzo Law Firm understands accidents that occur aboard cruise ships resulting from slip and fall accidents, food poisoning, or any situation resulting in personal injury or losses.
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