Grand Princess crew members to disembark, take charter flights; ship to anchor in San Francisco Bay

The Grand Princess cruise ship, docked at the Port of Oakland, discharges passengers exposed to the COVID-19 coronavirus in preparation for quarantines, during an outbreak of the disease in Northern California, Oakland, California, March 12, 2020. (P

The remaining Grand Princess cruise ship crewmembers will disembark and repatriate via charter flights to their home countries as part of a coordinated effort, government officials confirmed on Sunday. The ship, stricken with the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, will disembark from the Port of Oakland Sunday evening and temporarily anchor in San Francisco Bay.  

The crewmembers, who are not essential to the safety of the ship, will undergo the same health screenings as guest passengers. If they are ill or symptomatic of the disease they not be allowed to fly via the chartered flights, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spokesperson said. If there is no chartered flight for the crewmember, they will remain on the ship under quarantine. 

Princess Cruises has committed to pay for the ground transportation and charter flight costs. 

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"This repatriation process has been extremely challenging due to the dynamic nature of the expanding and evolving air travel restrictions throughout the world," said Gretchen Mitchell, a Dept. of Health and Human Services spokesperson. 

The coordinated effort to remove the crewmembers involves HHS, California Governor's Office of Emergency Services and the U.S. Coast Guard, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, City of Oakland and Port of San Francisco. 

As of Saturday, officials had had disembarked more than 2,900 individuals from the Grand Princess, which includes more than 2,400 passengers and more than 500 crew.

Once the ship departs Oakland, the Port of Oakland will be decontaminated and "fully remediated" and all temporary structures from this mission will be removed, said officials.  

The ship has been docked at the Port of Oakland since March 9.