GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - If you haven’t noticed, there’s a Carnival cruise ship docked at Port of Gulfport and it has raised some questions and concerns.
The Carnival Valor arrived Sunday in Gulfport, where it is expected to stay for the next few weeks. Due to ships stopping cruises as the coronavirus continues to spread, their homeports are full, causing some ships to need temporary places to dock.
According to Gulfport officials and Carnival, there are no passengers on the ships that will be docked in Gulfport, which will remain there until further notice. Additionally, crew members aboard the vessels will not be allowed to leave the ships, as well.
Right now, the Valor is the only ship in Gulfport but the Carnival Freedom is expected to arrive Monday afternoon. A Royal Caribbean ship could be arriving later in the week.
“As the industry is going into a lockdown over the next 30+ days, they’ve been looking for ports in order to be able to stage vessels at," explained Port of Gulfport Executive Director Jonathan Daniels.
“She’ll be anchored just south of Ship Island, in the bar area,” explained Daniels. “Then, about every six or seven days, she will come to shore and take on provisions because they do have crew on board.”
Daniels says crew members that are on board aren’t allowed to leave the ships while docked.
“We have federal guidelines with isolation. If it comes down from the CDC, then comes down through MEMA and others, down to us that they’re suppose to be isolated for longer period of time,” he explained. “That is something that we will instruct to Carnival and Royal Caribbean and make sure that they adhere to those operations as well.”
According to an Ohio news station, WCMH-TV, the Carnival Valor recently had a passenger aboard who was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus.
However, a statement made by Carnival Cruise Line said, “We have not been contacted by Columbus, Ohio public health authorities about this matter. In addition, we have reviewed the medical case history on the ship of the last three cruises dating back to February 29 through today, and there has not been any guest or crew who have been seen with any influenza-like illness.”
Port of Gulfport Director Jonathan Daniels said the Port has talked with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), with Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH), and with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Before Valor made it to the Coast, it took its normal routes dropping off passengers in Galveston and New Orleans.
Work to promote the piers has been underway, and port leaders hope the facility can become a destination for the cruise industry and for cruise lines to rethink Gulfport as a cruise destination going forward.