British Columbia

B.C. port authorities preparing for arrival of Grand Princess cruise ship currently under quarantine

The Grand Princess, which is currently under quarantine measures off the coast of California, is scheduled to arrive in Vancouver on April 2 and the capital city on April 3.

The Grand Princess is scheduled to arrive in Vancouver April 2 and Victoria April 3

In this photo provided by Michele Smith, a cruise ship worker cleans a railing on the Grand Princess, which is currently docked off the coast of California under quarantine as passengers await test results for the coronavirus. (The Associated Press)

A cruise ship under quarantine off the coast of California is scheduled to dock in B.C. in about a month and city harbour authorities say they are working with the cruise line and health authorities to make sure it does not pose a health risk.

The Grand Princess, with about 3,500 people aboard, including 235 Canadians, was ordered to hold its position off the coast after a traveller from a previous voyage died of the disease and at least two others became infected. 

It is expected to arrive in Vancouver on April 2 and Victoria on April 3.

"We will look to the experts to tell us what needs to be done," said Ian Robertson, CEO of the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, in an interview on On The Island Friday. 

Robertson said what screening measures for the virus are in place for passengers when the boat is in B.C., if any, will be up to local, provincial and federal health officials to determine. 

He said the harbour authority does deal with ships several times a year that have had outbreaks of the Norwalk virus and in those cases, as will happen with the Grand Princess and all others until coronavirus is under control, the terminal will receive an "extra level of cleansing."

In this photo provided by Michele Smith, a Coast Guard helicopter delivering virus testing kits hovers above the Grand Princess cruise ship off the California coast on March 5. The boat is due in Victoria, B.C. in April. (Michele Smith/The Associated Press)

Robertson said the ships themselves are also always "rigorously cleaned" by crew staff.

"I am confident that when this ship arrives, if it's still on schedule and at this point it is, it will be a very clean ship."

In a statement, the Port of Vancouver said it is in discussions with cruise line partners concerning any updated protocols and procedures in place for the upcoming cruise season.

The port said there are a number of different agencies also playing a role in those discussions, including Cruise Lines International Association, Canada Border Services Agency, Transport Canada and Health Canada.

"Health Canada is the lead organization that all agencies will be looking to for guidance and direction, which we expect to be informed of soon," said the port.

On Thursday, the California Air National Guard delivered test kits to the cruise ship so that passengers could be tested for the virus.

"We are going to be looking at that for this ship and all ships until the virus is dealt with," said Robertson.

Robertson said there have been no cruise ship cancellations for the spring season so far.

With files from On The Island, Peter Zimonjic, Brennan MacDonald


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