A third Princess cruise ship kept at sea pending virus tests

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Thousands of passengers on a third Princess Cruises ship are being kept on board while crew members get tested for COVID-19.

The Caribbean Princess, on a 10-day trip to the Panama Canal, was scheduled to dock in Grand Cayman on Monday. But the Çalifornia-based cruise line said it will keep passengers and crew from disembarking, and instead will pick up test kits after notifying the CDC that two crew members had transferred from a Princess ship in California where a guest had tested positive for COVID-19.

These crew members being tested are currently "asymptomatic" and are remaining alone in their rooms “out of an abundance of caution" as the ship returns to Fort Lauderdale, the company statement said.

The ship is under a “no sail order” from the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which will require it to remain at anchor off the coast of Florida until further notice, the statement said. It was originally scheduled to return to Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday.

The Regal Princess underwent a similar process, spending most of a day sailing up and down the Florida coast, before finally pulling into Port Everglades late Sunday. Its passengers finally disembarked after two crew members tested negative for the coronavirus. Those crew members also lacked symptoms, but had come from the Grand Princess in California, where at least 21 people tested positive.

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Rising number of coronavirus cases on the Diamond Princess
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Rising number of coronavirus cases on the Diamond Princess
Journalists work near the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship sitting at the Yokohama Port Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, Yokohama, Japan. The operator of the ship said Monday that an additional 66 cases were found aboard. That is in addition to 70 reported earlier. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
The quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess anchors at the Yokohama Port, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, Yokohama, Japan. Japan’s health ministry said Monday that about 60 more people on the quarantined cruise ship have tested positive for a new virus. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Officials with protective suites prepare work around the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess in the Yokohama Port Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, Yokohama, Japan. Japan’s health ministry said Monday that about 60 more people on the quarantined cruise ship have tested positive for a new virus. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Officials with protective suites walk from the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess in the Yokohama Port Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. Japan. Japan’s health ministry said Monday that about 60 more people on the quarantined cruise ship have tested positive for a new virus. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Passengers stand on the balcony of the cruise ship Diamond Princess anchored off the Yokohama Port in Yokohama, near Tokyo Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. China reported a rise in new virus cases on Monday, possibly denting optimism disease control measures that have isolated major cities might be working, while Japan reported dozens of new cases aboard the quarantined cruise ship. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Some banners are hang by passengers of the cruise ship Diamond Princess anchored off the Yokohama Port Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. China reported a rise in new virus cases on Monday, possibly denting optimism disease control measures that have isolated major cities might be working, while Japan reported dozens of new cases aboard the quarantined cruise ship. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
An official with protective suites walks near the cruise ship Diamond Princess anchored off the Yokohama Port in Yokohama, near Tokyo Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. China reported a rise in new virus cases on Monday, possibly denting optimism disease control measures that have isolated major cities might be working, while Japan reported dozens of new cases aboard the quarantined cruise ship. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Members of the Japan Self Defense Forces prepare the truck to connect with the cruise ship Diamond Princess anchored off the Yokohama Port in Yokohama, near Tokyo Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. China reported a rise in new virus cases on Monday, possibly denting optimism disease control measures that have isolated major cities might be working, while Japan reported dozens of new cases aboard a quarantined cruise ship. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
The cruise ship Diamond Princess is anchored off the Yokohama Port in Yokohama, near Tokyo Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. China reported a rise in new virus cases on Monday, possibly denting optimism disease control measures that have isolated major cities might be working, while Japan reported dozens of new cases aboard a quarantined cruise ship. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
In this Feb. 9, 2020, photo, a passenger stands at the balcony of the cruise ship Diamond Princess anchored off the Yokohama Port in Yokohama, near Tokyo. Japan’s health ministry said Monday, Feb. 10 about 60 more people on the quarantined cruise ship have tested positive for a new virus. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Fire department members gather at the entrance of the cruise ship Diamond Princess which anchors off the Yokohama Port Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. Japan on Saturday reported three more cases of the coronavirus aboard the Diamond Princess for a total of 64. There are 3,700 passengers and crew on the Diamond Princess who must remain on board for 14 days. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
A passenger stands on the balcony of the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess anchored at the Yokohama Port in Yokohama, near Tokyo Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. Japan on Saturday reported three more cases of the coronavirus aboard the Diamond Princess for a total of 64. There are 3,700 passengers and crew on the Diamond Princess who must remain on board for 14 days. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
A man with wearing a protective suit walks down levels of the qurantined cruise ship Diamond Princess anchored in the Yokohama Port Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, Yokohama, Japan. Japan on Saturday reported three more cases of the coronavirus aboard the Diamond Princess for a total of 64. There are 3,700 passengers and crew on the Diamond Princess who must remain on board for 14 days. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
The quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess is anchored in the Yokohama Port Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. Japan on Saturday reported three more cases of the coronavirus aboard the Diamond Princess for a total of 64 . There are 3,700 passengers and crew on the Diamond Princess who must remain on board for 14 days. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Members of Japan Self Defense Forces walk into the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess in the Yokohama Port Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in Yokohama, Japan. China's death toll from the new virus outbreak has risen to over 800, surpassing the number of fatalities in the 2002-03 SARS epidemic, as other governments stepped up efforts to block the disease. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Passengers stand on balconies on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, with around 3,600 people quarantined onboard due to fears of the new coronavirus, at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama port on February 10, 2020. - Around 60 more people on board the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship moored off Japan have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus, the country's national broadcaster said on February 10, raising the number of infected passengers and crew to around 130. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
Passengers stand on balconies on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, with around 3,600 people quarantined onboard due to fears of the new coronavirus, at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama port on February 10, 2020. - Around 60 more people on board the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship moored off Japan have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus, the country's national broadcaster said on February 10, raising the number of infected passengers and crew to around 130. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
Passengers stand on balconies on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, with around 3,600 people quarantined onboard due to fears of the new coronavirus, at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama port on February 10, 2020. - Around 60 more people on board the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship moored off Japan have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus, the country's national broadcaster said on February 10, raising the number of infected passengers and crew to around 130. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
Passengers stand on balconies on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, with around 3,600 people quarantined onboard due to fears of the new coronavirus, at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama port on February 10, 2020. - Around 60 more people on board the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship moored off Japan have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus, the country's national broadcaster said on February 10, raising the number of infected passengers and crew to around 130. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
People wearing protective suits walk from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, with around 3,600 people quarantined onboard due to fears of the new coronavirus, at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama port on February 10, 2020. - Around 60 more people on board the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship moored off Japan have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus, the country's national broadcaster said on February 10, raising the number of infected passengers and crew to around 130. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
An ambulance carrying passengers drives away from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, with around 3,600 people quarantined onboard due to fears of the new coronavirus, at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama port on February 10, 2020. - Around 60 more people on board the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship moored off Japan have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus, the country's national broadcaster said on February 10, raising the number of infected passengers and crew to around 130. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
The Diamond Princess cruise ship, with around 3,600 people quarantined onboard due to fears of the new coronavirus, is seen anchored at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama port on February 10, 2020. - Around 60 more people on board the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship moored off Japan have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus, the country's national broadcaster said on February 10, raising the number of infected passengers and crew to around 130. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
The Diamond Princess cruise ship, with around 3,600 people quarantined onboard due to fears of the new coronavirus, is seen anchored at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama port on February 10, 2020. - Six more people on a cruise ship off Japan are found to have the new coronavirus, the government said February 9, bringing the number who have tested positive on board to 70. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
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Also Sunday, the U.S. State Department advised against travel on cruise ships, particularly for travelers with underlying health conditions. The advisory said the CDC has noted an “increased risk of infection of COVID-19 in a cruise ship environment.”

It is unclear how many people have been on board the Florida-based ships. The cruise line said the Regal Princess has a capacity of 3,560 guests and the Caribbean Princess can carry more than 3,600 guests.

Passengers began disembarking shortly after the Regal Princess pulled into port, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported. Penny Sitz, of Minnesota, said the crew was “fantastic,” constantly cleaning and “making us wash our hands all the time.”

The Regal Princess had been scheduled to return to sea on a seven-day Caribbean trip on Sunday, but that voyage was canceled. The cruise line said guests would receive a full refund and offered $300 reimbursement for one night's hotel costs.

The cruise line hasn't announced plans for the next Caribbean Princess voyage. A cruise on the same ship was cut short last month after a gastrointestinal outbreak sickened at least 299 passengers and 22 crew members.

Meanwhile, on dry land, two people with COVID-19 died in Florida, the first deaths on the U.S. East Coast attributed to the outbreak. A spokeswoman for Gov. Ron DeSantis tweeted that both were in their 70s and had traveled overseas.

DeSantis later met with Vice President Mike Pence, Florida's senators and cruise line industry leaders on Saturday to discuss better responses to the outbreak.

The industry was asked to devise and fund ways of transport any passengers found to carry the virus. Cruise line heads agreed to enhance entry and exit screenings and establish shipboard testing, along with new quarantine standards established by the CDC. Some of the new protocols were expected to start taking effect early this week.

The cruise lines must “make sure they are keeping their passengers safe and do not end up putting undo burden on federal resources," DeSantis said.

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Frisaro reported from Miami. The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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