(3 p.m. EDT) – Carnival Corporation has extended an offer to use several cruise ships from across its brands' fleets, including Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and P&O Cruises Australia, as temporary hospital ships during the coronavirus pandemic.
The move, which was first announced by U.S. President Trump on Thursday following a conversation with Carnival Corp. Chairman Micky Arison, would allow authorities on land to relieve pressure on healthcare facilities by deploying vessels to areas where they are needed most.
"With the continued spread of COVID-19 expected to exert added pressure on land-based healthcare facilities, including a possible shortage of hospital beds, Carnival Corporation and its brands are calling on governments and health authorities to consider using cruise ships as temporary healthcare facilities to treat non-COVID-19 patients, freeing up additional space and expanding capacity in land-based hospitals to treat cases of COVID-19," the line said in a prepared statement.
The company would only charge for the ship's essential costs relating to operation.
In its offer, Carnival noted its vessels are capable of providing up to 1,000 rooms for patients suffering from less critical, non-COVID-19 conditions. Because ships are already wired for high-speed networks, the rooms could easily be provisioned with remote patient monitoring devices such as those that track cardiac, respiratory and oxygen saturation.
It also noted that rooms offer private bathroom facilities and balconies with access to fresh air, as well as isolation capabilities if needed.
Additionally, because the ships have medical centers, each could also provide up to seven intensive care units, already equipped with central cardiac monitoring, ventilators and other key medical devices and capabilities.
Ships can be berthed in communities with piers and operated by the ship's crew, with all maritime, food and beverage, and cleaning services provided by crew members on the ship. Medical services would need to be provided by the government entity or hospital within that community.
The U.S. federal government has used cruise ships during disasters before. After Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. government chartered three of Carnival Cruise Line's ships for six months to help provide shelter for as many as 7,000 people, mostly displaced city workers.