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American Queen, Victory Cruises Offer Their Vessels for Military Use



American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC) and her sister carrier Victory Cruise Lines (VCL) have offered up their currently-idle ships for use by the U.S. military for personnel that may need to be quarantined amid the COVID-19 health crisis, Travel Weekly revealed.

These Hornblower-owned companies join the ranks of travel operators, including hotels and cruise lines, who have made offers to the government to use their facilities to quarter patients and personnel while the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the nation.

Last week, in a similar move, cruise industry giant Carnival Corp. offered its ships to aid the government by serving as temporary hospital facilities while the coronavirus crisis persists. The White House has yet to declare news of whether or not it will be taking the company up on its offer.

AQSC and VCL suggested in a statement that they are, “currently exploring ways to work with the U.S. federal government for their usage of our vessels.” The proposed usage would be to house military personnel who require quarantining upon arrival from outside the U.S. or prior to departing for foreign shores.

“AQSC and VCL would be pleased to assist the federal government during this crisis, and our six vessels are readily available and on standby,” the company said.’

Cities in which the cruise lines’ vessels could potentially be stationed for such purposes include New Orleans, Norfolk, Miami, San Diego, Seattle and St. Louis.

American Countess
PHOTO: The American Countess. (Photo courtesy of American Queen Steamboat Company)

AQSC also announced today that it would be extending the temporary suspension of operations across its entire fleet through May 16, 2020, in response to the evolving conditions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, which include the ongoing, widespread application of governmental restrictions across ports, cities and public institutions.

AQSC’s customer service team is reaching out directly to all guests and their travel agents impacted by the cancellation of those 20 sailings scheduled to take place between April 11 and May 16, 2020, regarding their available rebooking and refund options.

A special incentivized future cruise credit of 125% of the original cruise fare is being offered for use on future sailings in 2020 or 2021, or guests can alternatively seek a full refund of the original fare.

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Coral Princess Docks in Miami with Two Dead, Others Ill



Princess Cruises’ Coral Princess has finally docked in Miami after having been denied permission to disembark its passengers at ports in multiple countries, although no one aboard had actually tested positive for COVID-19 until this week. Onboard medical staff noticed a higher-than-usual number of ship’s occupants coming down with flu-like over a week ago and, starting March 30, guests were asked to stay in their rooms.

CNN reported that the ship arrives with two dead and several others sick with the novel coronavirus. While it’s unclear exactly how many of Coral Princess’ 1,000-plus passengers and 878 crew will be cleared to disembark in Miami, Miami Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez told CNN that the most seriously ill will be transported off the ship first, bound for local hospitals. Two guests, in particular, who require immediate medical attention were to be taken to Miami’s Larkin Community Hospital, said the mayor.

Gimenez also explained that about fifteen coronavirus-positive passengers who don’t need immediate hospitalization will remain aboard to receive care in the ship’s medical ward until they are cleared the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

Reportedly, those passengers who are deemed fit to fly home will begin disembarking tomorrow, although the process, Princess Cruises said, “is expected to take several days, due to limited flight availability,” Mayor Gimenez disclosed that over 990 passengers and 840 crew members have thus far been deemed fit for travel.

The Coral Princess was about halfway through its itinerary when, on March 12, Princess Cruises announced that it would end underway voyages as soon as possible as worldwide concern grew regarding the spread of COVID-19. The cruise, which departed from Chile on March 5 and was scheduled to finish March 19 in Argentina, lasted more than two weeks longer than originally planned.

The vessel tried to disembark on March 19 in Buenos Aires as originally scheduled, as many passengers had air travel booked home from that point. When it did dock, the government would only allow Argentine passport holders and others who had confirmed same-day flights off the ship. The Argentine government warned that, if the Coral Princess did not cast off again that same night, it would be required to remain there indefinitely with no passengers disembarking.

The Coral Princess afterward appealed to authorities in Uruguay, where it was able to resupply, and in Brazil, but was denied disembarkation by both. Heading towards Florida, the ship picked up supplies once more in Barbados before finally finding safe harbor in Miami.

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