Holland America Cruise Ship Docks in San Diego After COVID-19 Outbreak Onboard

The Holland America cruise ship docked in San Diego Sunday

NBC Universal, Inc.

A Holland America cruise ship docked in San Diego Sunday after it didn't make its scheduled stop in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico after authorities did not allow guests to disembark due to positive COVID-19 tests among employees.

"Nothing changed about the trip other than we couldn't disembark in Puerto Vallarta," said cruise ship passenger, Marilyn Woodruff. "We got notified the day of."

According to Mexico authorities, about 21 crew members aboard the Holland America ship Koningsdam tested positive for COVID-19 as the ship arrived in the port of Puerto Vallarta on Dec. 23.

A spokesperson for Holland America confirmed that a small number of their about 875 ship employees, who were all fully vaccinated, tested positive and were showing mild symptoms. The staff was in isolation and close contacts were quarantining, the cruise line said in a statement to NBC 7.

"I felt really safe. I had no concerns at all. The cleanliness standards were very good. I think they responded very quickly to contain it," said Woodruff.

According to Mexico's Ministry of Health, before the ship departed from San Diego on Dec. 19, the entire crew had been tested for COVID-19 and only one positive case was found.

Koningsdam then traveled to Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlán before more active cases were detected on Dec. 23, Mexico officials said.

Due to the outbreak, Mexico authorities would not allow the more than 1,000 passengers to disembark, and the Koningsdam ship decided to pull out of port and head back to San Diego early, Holland America said.

"Due to a last-minute notification from authorities that guests would not be permitted ashore, the ship departed and will return to San Diego to arrive in two days as scheduled," a statement said. "Guests were notified and continue to enjoy activities aboard the vessel. There were two days at sea planned in the itinerary after leaving Puerto Vallarta."

Passengers were able to disembark once arriving in San Diego. No information has yet been released on what happened to those people who tested positive.

Holland America says COVID protocols are still being followed aboard all ships, which includes mask wearing by guests and staff in all indoor areas and routine disinfecting.

All guests and staff must be fully vaccinated and guests must provide a negative COVID-19 test before boarding the ship.

Cruises resumed in San Diego County in Oct. 2021 following a lengthy pandemic pause, bringing a much-needed boost to the local tourism industry. According to the Port of San Diego, the city is California's third busiest port.

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