Chapter 2: Carnival put to the test as early COVID-19 hotspot

Diamond Princess

As more and more Carnival ships become hotbeds of infection and the company faces harsh criticism, CEO Arnold Donald trumpets the company’s unwavering focus on compliance.

While managing the coronavirus outbreak on Diamond Princess in Asia, Carnival received more bad news: The virus had infected Grand Princess off the West Coast of the United States.

Grand Princess set sail on a round-trip itinerary to Mexico on Feb. 11 and to Hawaii on Feb. 21, with many of the same crew and 68 of the same passengers aboard both voyages. On March 4, California health officials reported the COVID-19-related death of a passenger from the former voyage. Princess confirmed an outbreak aboard the subsequent trip 48 hours later. The ship remained about 50 miles off the coast of San Francisco for three days, and disembarkation began in the port of Oakland on March 9.

In the span of two weeks from Compliance Week’s visit to Carnival headquarters, the number of COVID-19 cases outside of China had increased 13-fold. The number of infected countries had tripled.

On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic.

The cruise industry changed quickly after that.

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