A new COVID-19 concern is steaming toward San Francisco -- a Princess Cruise ship filled with Bay Area travelers. And some say it's been a nightmare at sea, and they worry what passengers will be bringing ashore Thursday.
According to passengers, the cruise ship “Ruby” will pull in there sometime in the morning after dealing with a COVID outbreak on board.
Princess Cruises responded Thursday via statement, acknowledging "a small number of positive COVID-19 cases among vaccinated guests, who are all asymptomatic."
Cerefin and Diane Castillo boarded the Princess Cruise ship for a 10-day New Year’s celebration voyage to Southern California and back.
Instead of celebrating, the couple said they’ve been isolating in their room, afraid to venture out after the entertainers for the ship had to quarantine due to a reported COVID-19 outbreak.
“It was kind of disturbing that there wasn’t more widespread announcements about that,” said Diane. “And if any passengers have it, and I think the only reason they announced that is because the shows were cancelled.”
According to Cerafin, the cancellation followed a series of incidents in which he felt the Princess workers were lax in COVID precautions.
He said he filed a complaint with security but got no response. Then he found himself in a telephone runaround as he tried to warn San Francisco about what was coming back to port.
Calling first the CDC, he was then referred to the California State Department, followed by the San Diego Public Health Department, its harbor police, the Department of Transportation, the coast guard, and then back to the CDC, which, that time, told him to call the Public Health Department of the destination site: San Francisco.
“He found something called a mega event and that’s where he was able to take a report and give me a tracking number. So that’s the only anchor I have for this whole event with anybody is this tracking number. Especially now that the ship is denying that anything ever happened,” said Cerafin.
NBC Bay Area did not hear back from the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
And Cerafin said he doesn't feel Princess Cruises is taking enough action as they get ready to dock.
“We’re not getting tested, so the Bay Area is getting us as is,” said Cerafin. “With no information about what happened here after the dancers, avid singers and everybody else had to quarantine.”
Unless they get different information from public health officials, the Castillos said they plan to go directly home and quarantine until they can get a COVID test. The earliest appointment they could schedule is at Stanford next week.
Here's the full statement from Princess:
"Ruby Princess this morning returned to San Francisco from a 10-day cruise to Mexico. As with all Princess itineraries, this cruise is operated as a vaccinated cruise, as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with guest and crew vaccination rates approaching 100%.
"Upon request by the San Francisco Department of Public Health, we conducted additional testing and identified a small number of positive COVID-19 cases among vaccinated guests, who are all asymptomatic. In accordance with our established protocols, those guests who tested positive will either return home via their personal vehicles or be taken to hotels coordinated in advance for quarantine.
"Ruby Princess is scheduled to depart this afternoon for a 10-day cruise to Mexico."