Eight Cruise Ships Still Carrying Passengers At Sea As Coronavirus Cases Grow Around The World

Amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, eight cruise ships remain at sea across the world as the cruise industry has been impacted with numerous instances of infection spreading among passengers and crew aboard the vessels.

On Thursday, the Coral Princess, owned by Princess Cruises, announced that 12 people tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus strain. The ship is the latest in a line of cruises that have seen individuals test positive while the ship was engaged in a voyage. Last week, the Zaandam, owned by Holland America Line, reported that dozens of people were experiencing flu-like symptoms, several others had tested positive and four passengers had died, though it was unclear if COVID-19 was responsible for their deaths.

Coral Princess is now headed to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where it hopes to dock and disembark passengers on April 4, CNN reported. Zaandam and its sister ship, Rotterdam, both docked in the Florida city on April 2.

However, Princess Cruises has another ship currently at sea, the Pacific Princess. On March 21, the ship docked in Australia, allowing a number of passengers to disembark and take flights home. For others unable to fly due to medical reasons, they remained on the ship, which is scheduled to dock in Los Angeles on April 24. According to CNN, there are currently 115 passengers aboard the Pacific Princess and no known cases of COVID-19.

Among the other six ships still at sea, the Costa Deliziosa, owned by the Italian Costa Crociere cruise line, is the only ship still searching for a final port of call. The ship left Venice, Italy on January 5 and was set to return on April 26, but amid the surge of cases in Italy, as well as the ongoing lockdown in the European nation, the ship is still waiting for a final port.

"The itinerary of the Costa Deliziosa on her world cruise was modified given the pandemic alert issued by the World Health Organization which brought local authorities to apply restrictions for the disembarkation of our guests compromising their cruise experience onboard," a spokesperson for Costa Crociere said in a statement to Newsweek sent via the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). "Despite all the efforts made to readjust the program, the only viable itinerary for Costa Deliziosa at present, which is capable to preserve the health of all guests and crew and secure the environment onboard - currently still immune, is to perform only technical calls for fuel bunkering and provisions."

On Thursday, the ship was docked in Muscat, Oman for a technical call. The itinerary includes another technical call in Suez, Egypt. The Costa Deliziosa has 1830 guests and 899 crew members on board at this time, the company said.

"The company is working with the Italian authorities to find a suitable port for ship's final destination on next 26 April, one which can guarantee maximum safety and the possibility of swiftly arranging the return home for guests and crew, while respecting the situation that the most affected Italian regions are facing in light of the present emergency," the statement said, adding that passengers and crew are observing social distancing and sanitation guidelines.

Eight cruise ships remain at sea amid coronavirus pandemic James D. Morgan/Getty

Two ships owned by Cruise & Maritime Voyages, the Columbus and Astor, also remain at sea.

In a statement to Newsweek via the CLIA, the company said that no passengers or crew members on either ship are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. The Columbus is expected to dock at London Cruise Terminal on April 14 with 907 passengers and 619 crew members on board. The Astor, meanwhile, will dock in Bremerhaven, Germany on April 12. Cruise & Maritime Voyages did not list numbers on board for the Astor.

Both the Queen Mary 2 and the Arcadia will dock in Southampton, England in the coming weeks, Cunard Cruises and P&O Cruises, the two cruise lines which own the ships, said in separate statements. Arcadia is expected in Southampton on April 12 when its 1,375 guests and 836 crew will disembark from the ship.

"The guests and crew are practising [sic] enforced social distancing as per global guidelines," a P&O Cruises spokesperson said.

Queen Mary 2 most recently made a technical stop in Durban, South Africa on March 31, and is expected in Southampton sometime in mid-April. According to Cunard Cruises, most of the ship's passengers disembarked in Fremantle, Australia in mid-March. However, 264 guests remain onboard the ship at this time.

The MSC Magnifica, which sailed on January 4 for a world voyage, is currently returning to Europe from the Indian Ocean. According to Paige Rosenthal, the communication manager for MSC Cruises, the cruise is carrying 1,771 passengers and they, as well as the crew, are "all in good health."

"There are no reports of anyone onboard suffering from any respiratory diseases or having any flu-like symptoms," the statement sent to Newsweek reads.

Emily Mae Czachor contributed to this report.