Britons stuck on coronavirus-hit cruise ship to be allowed to leave

More than 100 Britons stuck on a coronavirus-hit cruise ship off the coast of California will soon be allowed to leave the vessel.

Passengers will disembark the Grand Princess from Monday – a process the liner’s operator said will take a number of days.

Britons on board have described feeling tired and “fed up”, having been confined to their cabins since Thursday.

Virus Outbreak California
Workers prepare a wharf in the Californian port Port of Oakland to receive the Grand Princess (Noah Berger/AP)

The ship, which is carrying 21 people who have tested positive for Covid-19, will dock in the port of Oakland on Monday.

A spokeswoman for operator Princess Cruises said: “Disembarkation will commence in order of priority, as defined and directed by both state and local authorities. It is expected to be a multiple-day process.”

There are 142 British nationals on board – both guests and crew members.

The crew will remain on board the ship as it departs from San Francisco Bay once all guests are off, a spokeswoman added.

“Plans for a crew quarantine are still being determined,” she said.

Virus Outbreak California
Passengers look out from balconies on board the Grand Princess (Noah Berger/AP)

Passengers will be tested for the virus once they arrive at their onward destination, the spokeswoman added.

The Government said it has been in contact with all Britons on the ship and is “working intensively” to arrange a repatriation flight.

A spokesman said: “We are working intensively with the US authorities on arrangements for a flight for British nationals who are currently on the Grand Princess cruise ship off the coast of California.

“We are in contact with all British nationals on board to offer assistance, as well as local authorities and staff on board the ship.”

Neil and Victoria Hanlon, from Bridgwater in Somerset, said they are eager to get home.

Speaking before news of the planned disembarkation was announced, Mr Hanlon said he felt “gutted” that they might have to stay on the ship for another few days.

He told BBC Breakfast: “(We’re feeling) very suppressed, very tired, fed up. Just want to get home.”

Mr Hanlon said food is now being limited, and Mrs Hanlon added: “We just want to get back to Britain, really.”

Coronavirus
(front to back) Justine and Dave Griffin with friends Sharon and Steve Lane on their balconies on the Grand Princess (Justine Griffin/PA)

Justine Griffin, from Coventry but living in Leicestershire, is travelling with her husband Dave and friends, and renewed her wedding vows on board the ship to mark her 25th wedding anniversary.

She previously told the PA news agency she feared they would be “at the bottom of the list” to get off the vessel.

The couple have not been tested for the coronavirus but believe they will have to enter quarantine in the UK for a further two weeks when they return home.

Princess Cruises also owns the Diamond Princess, which was placed into quarantine in Japan last month.

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