SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — In March 2020, the Grand Princess cruise ship docked off the coast of Northern California after an outbreak of COVID-19.
Veteran cruisers Ted and Ann Bowman watched the plight of passengers and crew members with a mix of horror and relief. The Amador County couple had been on the same boat just before the outbreak.
“We thanked our lucky stars that we were able to get off the ship unscathed,” Ted Bowman said.
Two years later, masked, vaxxed and boosted, they decided it was safe to cruise again and took off on their 40th trip with Princess Cruises. On March 27, they boarded in San Francisco. Four days later, the cruise had made it to Hawaii, but Ted Bowman was feeling sick.
“They said, ‘You have tested positive for COVID. We need you to pack up your things. We’re moving you to an isolated room,’” Ted Bowman recalled.
He was moved to a different deck and was joined there by Ann Bowman when she eventually tested positive. They said their time in isolation was miserable. They said the wait to order and receive food deliveries was hours long.
They also said there was no communication from medical personnel.
“I was very depressed. I wasn’t sleeping well. I just felt there was no way to treat someone who had been traveling with a cruise line for 22 years,” Ted Bowman said.
They said they felt abandoned. It also became clear to them that more and more people were added to isolation.
“We think it was 200 or more people on that deck,” Ann Bowman said.
Princess Cruises did not confirm how many people tested positive. They sent FOX40 a statement dated April 11 when the Hawaii cruise returned, saying in part:
“During the cruise, some positive COVID-19 cases amongst our guests and crew members were identified,” Princess Cruises said.
News reports from late March show the same ship had the same problem two weeks before. Crew members and passengers tested positive on the Ruby Princess trip from San Francisco to the Panama Canal, and hours after returning to San Francisco, the ship took off on the 15-day trip to Hawaii — the Bowman’s trip.
They wish they knew that history before getting on board.
“With our risk factor being what it is especially with Ann being asthmatic. We probably would have declined,” Ted Bowman said.
According to their website, Princess Cruises requires passengers to be fully vaccinated with a negative PCR test.
The Ruby Princess Ship is currently in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s orange tier, meaning there have been enough cases reported for the CDC to investigate. Four other Princess cruise ships are also in the orange.
“I think Princess was premature in coming back to cruising. The environment clearly was not safe, and they let us on the ship anyway,” Ted Bowman said.
According to the statement from Princess Cruises, the same day the Bowman’s docked in San Francisco their ship was scheduled to go head next to Ensenada.
FOX40 asked Princess Cruises for a statement, which can be read in full below. We also asked several questions to clarify the situation, two of which were answered.
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (April 11, 2022) – Ruby Princess returned this morning to San Francisco from a 15-day Hawaiian cruise.Princess Cruises
As with all Princess itineraries, this cruise is operated as a highly vaccinated cruise, as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Guests and crew vaccination rates were at 100%.
During the cruise some positive COVID-19 cases amongst our guests and crew members were identified. All cases were asymptomatic or only mildly symptomatic. Guests and crew who tested positive were isolated while monitored and cared for by our shipboard Medical team.
The protocols that have been established work. When cases are identified because of the testing onboard, cruise ship protocols help to maximize onboard containment with rapid response procedures designed to safeguard all other guests and crew as well as the communities that the ships visit.
In collaboration with CDC and San Francisco Department of Public Health, those guests who tested positive and have not completed the isolation period will either return home via private transportation or were provided with accommodations ashore to hotels coordinated in advance for isolation purposes.
Ruby Princess is scheduled to depart this afternoon for a 5-day cruise to San Diego and Ensenada.
- How many confirmed passenger COVID-19 cases were reported onboard for the cruise from San Francisco to Hawaii 3/27-4/11?
- How many confirmed staff COVID-19 cases were reported onboard for the cruise from San Francisco to Hawaii 3/27-4/11?
- How many passengers were quarantined due to close contacts or suspected cases?
- How many staff were quarantined due to close contacts or suspected cases?
- It was reported that a Ruby princess cruise to the Panama canal returning 3/27 had a cluster of COVID cases onboard. Is that accurate?
- It was also reported that the ship that experienced the cluster of COVID cases on the 3/12-3/27 Panama Canal voyage departed the same day to Hawaii. Is the ship with the cluster of COVID cases that returned from the Panama Canal 3/27, the same ship that traveled to Hawaii 3/27-4/11?
- If so, how much time elapsed between the trips?
- If so, were the people embarking on the 3/27-4/11 cruise to Hawaii informed there had been a cluster of cases on the same ship hours before they boarded?
- If so, were any of the same crew members staffing both voyages?
- Did any crew members staffing the 3/12-3/27 Panama trip, test positive for COVID-19 during the 2/27-4/11 trip to Hawaii?
- What is the cleaning procedure when there have been verified cases of COVID-19 on board?
- Is the Ruby Princess ship that returned from Hawaii 4/11 currently on another voyage?
- If so, where? and have there been any COVID-19 cases reported on board?
- Are passengers notified when there have been positive COVID-19 cases on board during their current trip?
- When embarking on a new trip, are passengers notified if there have been COVID-19 cases on the same ship in the previous voyage?
- What is the procedure if passengers test positive or display COVID-19 symptoms while on board?
“Anyone reporting or exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms will be reviewed by the shipboard medical staff and tested for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). COVID-19 cases will be assessed and treated either in their stateroom or in a designated area of the Medical Center in a single occupancy ward. Positive cases will most likely be moved to a different stateroom for the duration of isolation,” Princess Cruises said.
- Are passengers notified of these procedures and what to expect if they get sick?
“Yes, all procedures are listed on our website https://www.princess.com/plan/cruise-with-confidence/cruise-health/frequently-asked-questions/us-cruises/,” Princess Cruises said.