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All clear given on Caribbean Princess after two crew members test negative for coronavirus; local residents to return home as scheduled

Posted at 12:11 AM, Mar 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-11 00:15:21-04

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has lifted a no-sail order for the Caribbean Princess cruise ship after two crew members tested negative for coronavirus.

As scheduled Wednesday, the cruise will dock at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.

“When the captain came on this morning and said that we were cleared by the CDC, the whole ship erupted in applause,”said passenger Teresa Baber, who isone of 23 people on board the ship who live in the Spanish Lakes Fairways community in St. Lucie County.

The no-sail order was issued late Sunday when Princess Cruises officials learned two crew members aboard the Caribbean Princess had previously been on the San Francisco-based Grand Princess where 19 crew members tested positive for the coronavirus.

The group from St. Lucie County traveled together as part of the neighborhood’s Italian-American club.

“I have to say that most people were very calm. We were all, in the beginning, like well, if we have to spend a couple of days at sea to be safe, that’s fine,” Baber said.

Baber praised the ship for keeping passengers entertained and safe despite initial worries about potential coronavirus on the ship.

“They have served us our meals every single day," she said. "We were not allowed to touch the salt and pepper shakers. They are doing everything for us and wiping everything down over and over again. They have kept the ship clean from top to bottom every single day.”

Sandy Sauers, the president for the community's Homeowners Association, has been keeping in touch with some of the group on the ship.

“Everybody is going to be happy to see them back, that’s for sure. But, I don’t know for sure if they’re going to get a lot of hugs or not,” Sauers said.

The 10-day cruise to the Panama Canal missed just one port of call in the Cayman Islands, according to Baber.

Sauers says her community will likely reconsider future group travel while coronavirus concerns are heightened for travelers.

“A lot of them have canceled their plans for other trips for the time being.”

The CDC recommends travelers, particularly those with underlying health issues, defer all cruise ship travel worldwide.