A Norwegian Cruise ship with 3,000 aboard was forced to cut short its voyage due to problems with the vessel’s propulsion system and because many ports along its route were closed due to coronavirus, according to several news reports.
The Norwegian Jewel was on a 23-day journey through Australia and French Polynesia when it encountered trouble and docked Sunday in Honolulu Harbor to undergo repairs, ABC News reported, citing the Hawaii Department of Transportation.
There were no reported cases of the virus on board the ship with 2,000 passengers and 1,000 crew members, reports said.
The ship’s passengers hail from around the world and last disembarked in Fiji on March 11. All had to be unloaded before work began on the ship’s engines, officials said.
Charter flights were being arranged for passengers Monday and Tuesday from Honolulu to Los Angeles; Sydney; London; Vancouver, British Columbia; and Frankfurt, Germany, the company said.
“A detailed plan is being developed with Norwegian Cruise Line that keeps passengers isolated to avoid any potential strain on Hawaii’s resources, while also addressing the well-being of the cruise line passengers who have been at sea for a very long time,” said Jade Butay, director of the Hawaii Department of Transportation.
The Jewel was turned away by Fiji and New Zealand, The Associated Press reported. The ship had refueled in American Samoa but was not allowed to disembark at the Port of Pago Pago.
Norwegian Cruise Lines suspended all voyages from March 13 to April 11. Any ships that were still on the sea were allowed to complete voyages that already disembarked before the decision was made.
Viking Cruises was the first major cruise line to suspend excursions in response to the outbreak March 12.
The same day, Carnival’s Princess Cruises, the industry’s most hard-hit liner, also announced it was halting global operations of its entire fleet of 18 cruise ships for two months due to the outbreak
A day later, on March 13, Norwegian joined Carnival, Royal Caribbean and MSC Cruises in agreeing to suspend services for 30 days.
The U.S. State Department previously advised against any travel on cruise ships, particularly for those with underlying health conditions. The advisory said the CDC has noted an “increased risk of infection of COVID-19 in a cruise ship environment.”
Princess Cruises operated two of the vessels that were stricken by the virus: the Diamond Princess, which was quarantined Feb. 4 with 3,700 passengers off the coast of Japan with more than 700 infected; and the Grand Princess, which had been quarantined off the coast of San Francisco with 3,500 aboard and 21 confirmed with the virus. Both ships have since been evacuated and passengers taken to military bases around the country. Some have been released after being quarantined for two weeks or more.