Grand Princess Makes Its Way Into San Francisco Bay

The Grand Princess cruise ship pulled into San Francisco Bay on March 9, 2020 carrying at least 21 people who are infected with COVID-19.
Photo credit Matt Bigler/KCBS Radio
By KCBS All News 106.9FM and 740AM

The Grand Princess cruise ship is making its way into the San Francisco Bay Monday morning and will eventually dock at the Port of Oakland. More than 2,400 passengers will need to disembark and begin a 14-day quarantine on land.

There are 21 people — 19 crew members and two passengers — aboard who have tested positive for COVID-19.

After passing under the Golden Gate Bridge around 11 a.m, it will take several hours to reach the port Monday afternoon. It will be a difficult passage because of the ship’s large size.

“I videoed going out of the Golden Gate Bridge when we left and it’s tight,” said passenger and San Francisco native Lyn Hamilton. “My husband said that’s why they’re waiting for the tides to go down before we go through.”

The ship has been linked to several other cases of coronavirus in passengers aboard an earlier voyage who have since disembarked.

The cruise liner will eventually arrive at the Port of America terminal, an 11-acre unused site that sits at the port’s northernmost point near the Bay Bridge toll plaza.

“It is a place where you can create isolation and fencing off and gating off and physical separation from people and [the] community and workers,” said Oakland assemblyman Rob Bonta.

Hamilton tells KCBS Radio that she and her husband have been preparing to disembark since Sunday evening. A health official interviewed the couple late at night to evaluate whether they were showing any symptoms.

“He said for us to have a good breakfast, take a good shower, wear clean clothes and stay well hydrated, because be in store for a very long day today,” says Hamilton, who doesn’t expect to actually set foot on land until late Monday afternoon at the earliest.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a Sunday news conference that the ship’s docking process will be complex and could itself take two hours or more because of factors including the ship’s size and tide conditions.

“So who knows how long it will be by the time we disembark, get on a bus,” said Hamilton. “Then we’ll be off to our federal facility which we are assuming will be Travis [Air Force Base].”

Preparations started at the Port of Oakland before sunrise. Oakland police boats and passenger buses were on scene as well as military personnel who were busy setting up tents.

Passengers who are in need of medical care will disembark first. The majority of the ship’s 946 passengers from California will travel by bus to Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield to be quarantined. Other Americans will go to the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, or other military facilities in Texas or Georgia.

While the majority of passengers are from the U.S., dozens of countries are represented on board. International passengers will catch charter flights to their home countries from the Oakland International Airport.California and Oakland officials are assuring local residents that no one from the ship will be allowed to simply depart and enter the community.

Once all of the passengers are off the ship, it will leave the Bay Area to continue the crew’s quarantine.

While her ordeal will continue after she leaves the ship, Hamilton says at least the end is in sight.

“We’re excited because then that really is going to start the countdown. Once we get to, say, Travis or wherever we’re going, then we know there’s gonna be an end to this in a couple of weeks.”