Coronavirus: Kiwis remain stranded on a cruise ship in the US despite repatriation of Aussies, Brits

The Coral Princess.
The Coral Princess. Photo credit: Princess Cruises

Seventeen New Zealanders remain stranded on a cruise ship docked off Florida in the US after it was repeatedly denied access to various South American ports.

From aboard the boat, Kiwi man Allan Ong wrote to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and deputy Winston Peters about two weeks ago pleading for assistance as their trip on the Coral Princess erupted into chaos.

He said the group remained on the ship despite Australian passengers being repatriated on Monday (NZ time), while UK residents on board have also been flown home.

Speaking to Magic Talk's Peter Williams on Tuesday, Ong said they hadn't stepped on land since March 13. The ship is now docked at Port Miami.

"We have been here since Saturday morning - still waiting for the announcement for us to disembark. It's turning out to be quite a tricky process.

"Unless Princess Cruises is able to arrange for a chartered flight for us to reach our destination, we are not going anywhere." 

He said there had been positive cases of COVID-19 on board the ship with about a dozen others tested for the virus.

Peters, also the Minister for Foreign Affairs, said the Government was doing "a lot" to try and assist those still stranded - addressing the Coral Princess debacle specifically.

"They were removed from the manifest coming through Los Angeles so we've got to start all over again to get them back," Peters told Magic Talk.

In a statement, Princess Cruises said 545 guests disembarked the ship on Sunday while another 139 left on Monday morning (NZ time). In total, 274 remained on board - including the 17 Kiwis.

"Disembarkation continued today prioritising those who departed on a chartered flight to Canada, in addition to chauffeured ground transportation for local Florida residents - all of which were arranged by Princess Cruises.

"All guests requiring shoreside medical care have been disembarked and are being treated at a facility pre-arranged by Princess Cruises.

"We again must express our continued gratitude to our guests for their patience and understanding as we navigate the unique and complex logistics required to manage this situation."