(7 p.m. EDT) -- After docking in the Port of Miami on April 4, Coral Princess has commenced the disembarkation of passengers; however, the process will be delayed due to new guidelines issued overnight. On April 5, the only passengers permitted to leave the ship are those departing on chartered flights arranged by Princess Cruises to California, Australia and the United Kingdom.
The cruise line posted on its website: "Overnight, the the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) communicated changes to their policy regarding post-disembarkation travel for cruise passengers, recommending no travel via commercial flights nor shared transportation with non-cruise guests. Princess Cruises continues to work tirelessly to adjust the repatriation plan to meet the new CDC requirements. This will unfortunately result in further delays in disembarkation and onward travel for many guests as we work through this complex, challenging and unfortunate situation."
As directed by the CDC, all Coral Princess passengers will be screened before disembarkation and they are required to wear a mask and practice social distancing measures until they reach their homes. Passengers with respiratory symptoms, or who are still recovering, will remain isolated on Coral Princess until medically cleared by the ship's doctors.
The ship, which was carrying 1,020 passengers and 878 crew members, has had 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19 onboard from which two people have died. There are seven confirmed cases among passengers and five among crew.
On Friday, Coral Princess's arrival was thrown into doubt as the port authorities stated the ship did not have permission to dock.
It comes just two days after two Holland America Line ships, Zandaam and Rotterdam, were cleared to dock in Port Everglades in nearby Fort Lauderdale, despite carrying passengers who had tested positive for the virus.
Disembarkation of Coral Princess passengers was expected to take several days due to limited flight availability. Passengers requiring shoreside medical care will be prioritized to disembark first. Passengers have been in isolation in their cabins since March 31.
Coral Princess departed March 5 from San Antonio (Santiago) for a South America voyage which was scheduled to end in Buenos Aires on March 19.
On Friday, fleetmate Regal Princess delivered food and medical supplies to Coral Princess near San Salvador, a Bahamian island.
Cruise Critic member pb_uk wrote on the Message Boards: "Good morning from onboard Coral Princess.
"Late last night the captain informed us that due to Zaandam and Rotterdam disembarking currently at FL, we would be delayed. We are to rendezvous with Regal Princess off San Salvador island (eastern Bahamas), to give us more supplies. RP has only crew onboard. Negotiations for our arrival at FL are ongoing. I guess FL has limits for handling arrivals in the current situation, so maybe understandable. Frustrating though as we just want to go home! In other developments, UK Consul-General in Miami has emailed all UK on board to collect info. This is heartening.”
We will update this story as more information becomes available.