HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Grand Princess cruise ship docked at Pier 2 in Honolulu on Sunday, Jan. 9, and over a thousand people arrived despite the recent surge in COVID cases.
The ship started out in Los Angeles, California on Jan. 4. This is the first cruise ship with passengers that will get off the ship since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
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A total of 1,188 passengers and 915 crew members were onboard the Grand Princess. The ship brought in many visitors who love going on cruise ships and seeing Hawaii.
“We come every year to see our beautiful whales, enjoy the people, and the food and the sites. We have missed you all terribly,” said Peggy Casper of Las Vegas, Nevada, a passenger on the Grand Princess.
While some Hawaii residents have said they are uneasy about more visitors to the islands, vaccinations and testing are still required for travelers as community spread has already brought the state’s numbers to new highs.
The state recently reached an agreement with Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Lines.
The Hawaii State Department of Transportation (HDOT) Public Information Officer Jai Cunningham said part of the agreement between the cruise lines and the state requires at least 99% of passengers to be vaccinated against COVID — which is above the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s threshold of 95%.
Those who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 but have been admitted on board must have a negative test. Those who are onboard the cruise ship will also follow the state’s Safe Travels program, just like passengers arriving by plane.
“We have got about half a full ship. Everything is going well. I think everyone is healthy. We have all been swabbed. So, I think people living here don’t have to be concerned about us bringing the disease over here,” explained Joann Monroe from Los Angeles, a passenger on the Grand Princess.
KHON2 spoke with several passengers aboard the Grand Princess who said the staff enforced the rules.
The Grand Princess is scheduled to leave Honolulu at 11 p.m. on Jan. 9. After it leaves Honolulu, it will go to Kauai, Hilo, Maui and then do a five-day sail to Ensenada, which is at Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. After that, it will go back to Los Angeles on Jan. 19.
However, when it does sail to the other islands, there are concerns about the neighboring islands’ hospital bed capacity.
COVID cases on cruises will be reported to Hawaii authorities, and cruise ships are equipped with isolation rooms and medical facilities to prevent taxing local health care resources.
“They have quarantine rooms. They also have ICU rooms. They have medical agreements here, locally, whether it be with Hawaii Pacific Health or some other entity. They also have transport agreements. Anyone who falls significantly ill and needs to be put into a hospital, they take care. The cruise lines take care of the cost and they take care of the transportation,” explained Cunningham.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green also noted that there will be outbreaks.
“It is a terrible feeling to be on a ship where you don’t have access to a lot of healthcare and they put you in isolation the best they can — it’s difficult,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green. “There are doctors and nurses on these ships and they are testing people, but as we know omicron spreads with an RN of 10, which means for every case that you have that ends up on that cruise ship 10 other people will catch it.”
Get more coronavirus news: COVID vaccines, boosters and Safe Travels information
Two more cruises have also been scheduled to arrive in the islands in January.