Crews prepare for cruise ship to dock at Port of Oakland

The Grand Princess sails under the Golden Gate Bridge on its way to Oakland. March 9, 2020.

The Princess cruise carrying 3,500 people, some of whom are infected with coronavirus, is expected to dock at the Port of Oakland on Monday just about lunch time.

Port spokesman Mike Zampa said the ship would likely arrive between 11 a.m. and noon. 

When the ship hits the port, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said those who emergency help will get to disembark first.

Then, the 962 California residents aboard will get off next, which will take take most of the day, the governor's office said. Those Californians will then be transferred to Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield or Marine Corps Air Station Miramar near San Diego for testing and quarantine. 

Non-Californians will be flown by the federal government to facilities in other states, such as the Joint Base San Antonio Lackland in Texas or Dobbins Air Force Base in Georgia, Newsom said.

Newsom stressed that the passengers from out of state and other countries would be taken by shuttle to a seperate section of Oakland International Airport, away from the general flying public. They will fly out on chartered planes. 

Newsom promised the ship will only be docked during the duration of the disembarkment, which might last several days. Newsom emphasized that the passengers "will not be released into the general public."

As for the crew?

Princess cruise employees will be quarantined and treated aboard the ship, Newsom said. As soon as the passengers get off, the ship will leave Oakland and "remain elsewhere" for the duration of the crew's quarantine. 

Late Saturday night, Princess Cruises alerted the public that the cruise line, which has been circling international waters since Wednesday night, would be docking in Oakland.

On Sunday, Newsom explained why "after careful review," the port in Oakland was the "best site." 


There are limited docks in California that would be able to dock a ship of that size, and the Port of Oakland location was the easiest to seal off, securely move passengers toward their isolation destinations and protect the safety of the public, Newsom's office said. The port is also close to the airport and Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield. 

The Port of Oakland's Outer Harbor Terminal also isn't near any big residential or commercial areas, while the San Francisco port, opens up onto the popular Embarcadero, where tourists and businesses are plentiful.

The old Alameda Naval Base was the first choice, Newsom added, but then was deemed unworkable because the water at the dock was not deep enough to accommodate the large vessel. 

In addition, the Outer Harbor terminal has had no shipping operation for several years; it has been used for truck parking and container storage. 

Several people, including Oakland Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, and port union leaders, are worried about the ship docking in Oakland and the safety of the community and their workers. 

But Newsom and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said protocols are in place to stop the spread of the disease.

Plus, Schaaf added: "Allowing them to disembark at the Port of Oakland is the right thing to do. We have to not let our fears dictate or impede our humanity." 


The Grand Princess sails under the Golden Gate Bridge on its way to Oakland. March 9, 2020.

Passenger Michael Bell told KTVU he is trying to stay optimistic, but he feels like he's "on the edge." He hasn't been able to leave his roomor exercise for days. 

On Monday, Bell said he couldn't sleep on Sunday night.

"I woke up this morning. Well, we were awakened awakened by the health workers who are all dressed up in white suits and head gear like Martians.”

Newsom said his office has been working with the Trump administration to help get everyone safely off the ship, which has been held off the shores of San Francisco since Wednesday night, and not contaminate others. Newsom praised both President Donald Trump and Mike Pence, saying he has had three calls with the vice president. 

"His team is truly exceptional," Newsom said of Pence. 

So far, 21 of the people on board have tested positive for coronavirus, but it's highly possible more have the disease, as only 45 people were formallly tested last week. Of those, 19 were crew numbers.

Throughout California, Newsom said 114 people have tested positive for coronavirus, and 12 of those came from the original Princess cruise from San Francisco to Mexico, where a 71-year-old Placer County man died.

In all, state health officials are monitoring 10,000 for possibly having the virus.

To date, 788 people have been tested in California, but Newsom said that number should increase dramatically in the coming days. 


Port of Oakland.

Passenger describes feeling 'over the edge' being trapped on cruise

Governor explains why Port of Oakland is 'best site' 

Health officials strongly recommend social distancing

Some city leaders, union workers worried about cruise docking

Elissa Harrington is a reporter forKTVU.  Email Elissa at and follow her onTwitter @EHarringtonKTVU. Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez