SAN FRANCISCO - A cruise ship called the Ruby Princess docked in San Francisco Thursday morning with a few, mostly symptom-less COVID-positive passengers, passing under the Golden Gate Bridge just before sunrise.
Princess Cruises sent an email stating that they randomly tested 25% of the roughly 700 passengers and board and found that 12 were positive with coronavirus, and that all had no or mild symptoms. The ship was filled to about one third of capacity.
Those who tested positive will either return home themselves or be taken to hotels coordinated in advance for quarantine, the cruise ship company said.
Starting on Friday, San Francisco Port officials said that all cruise liners disembarking in San Francisco will be required to test all passengers whose vaccines are not up-to-date, which includes people who didn't get their booster shot.
Passengers who were on the cruise said they had a great time and felt very safe.
"There was plenty of room to get around," said Joe Donnelly, who disembarked from the ship and was on his way home to Vallejo. "Everybody seemed to be happy. Didn't see any problems."
Donnelly said that he knew of one person who tested for positive and that person would have to quarantine for three more days in a hotel, as he had spent two of those days isolated on the ship.
Donnelly described an atmosphere on the ship where everyone wore masks and there were plenty of wash basins around.
"I wasn't worried at all," he said.
The ship started sailing in San Francisco on Dec. 27, made its way down the coast, with a final port in Cabo, Mexico, on Jan. 2.
According to the CDC all 92 cruise ships with passengers right now are under investigation for COVID outbreaks. According to the CDC website, the Ruby Princess had been under the yellow, color-coded COVID status, which means at least .1% of the passengers onboard have confirmed COVID cases.
But this cruise ship COVID situation is a far cry from two years ago.
In March 2020, in the early stages of the pandemic, the Grand Princess was rerouted to the Bay Area, anchoring at the Port of Oakland where 3,000 passengers stayed there in quarantine and panic ensued.
The next month, more than 100 people were found to have contracted the virus and seven people died.
That was at the beginning of this COVID-19 pandemic, and for many people, one of the first times they'd heard about what was back then, called the novel coronavirus.
Now, two years later, there were no crews in hazmat suits rushing everyone off the Ruby Princess.
In fact, many passengers said the cruise felt like pre-pandemic times.
Pam Herron and Bob Frye, who have been on a total of 29 cruises, got off the ship and told KTVU that the service, food and entertainment on the ship was excellent.
Both are vaccinated and boosted and they said they had to show proof of a negative test two days before the ship sailed.
"We love cruising," Herron said.
The Princess cruise is scheduled to depart Thursday afternoon for a 10-day cruise to Mexico.