ASTORIA, Ore. — A cruise ship idling off the California coast after a former passenger died was scheduled to arrive in Astoria later this month, but those plans may be in limbo.
Officials from the port of Astoria, the city of Astoria and U.S. Coast Guard huddled in a closed-door meeting Thursday to discuss plans for the upcoming cruise ship season.
“It’s a rapidly evolving situation,” explained Astoria mayor Bruce Jones.
The port of Astoria is making some last-minute changes to its cruise ship schedule because of the coronavirus. Two cruise ships were added to the calendar due to repositioning on the West Coast, explained Bruce Connor of the Port of Astoria.
The Port of Astoria is expected to host a record-breaking 37 cruise ships and more than 80,000 passengers between March and October.
The first ship scheduled to arrive is the Grand Princess on March 31. The Grand Princess is currently off the coast of San Francisco amid concerns those onboard may have been exposed to the coronavirus after former passenger died.
Officials in Astoria are monitoring the situation involving the Grand Princess, explained Mayor Jones. It is not yet clear whether the Grand Princess will dock in Astoria as planned.
The Coast Guard requires that ships report any sick crew or passengers two weeks prior to arrival in a U.S. port.
In anticipation of cruise ship season, health officials in Astoria said they’re working on a strategy to keep everyone safe.
“We are in close contact with the Coast Guard. We’ll follow their lead,” explained Michael McNickle, Clatsop County Public Health director.
A Coast Guard spokesperson declined to comment on any extra precautions or screenings planned for passengers getting off cruise ships in Astoria.
Excursion organizers and volunteers said they are taking extra steps to prevent illness among passengers and residents.
“We’re getting a lot more hand sanitizers and we’re definitely going to be preaching, ‘Wash, wash, wash!” said Cyndi Mudge of Clatsop Cruise Hosts.