The Perfect Enemy | Princess cruise ship that docked in Kahului had 143 COVID-19 cases when it returned - Maui Now
February 17, 2024

Cruise ship at Kahului Harbor. (1.12.22) PC: Taija Hara

A cruise ship that traveled from San Francisco to Hawaiʻi and docked in Kahului Harbor on April 2 suffered an outbreak of 143 COVID-19 cases. 

It’s the second ship in the same cruise line to have COVID-19 cases while in Kahului since the return of cruise ships to Hawaiʻi this year. 

The Ruby Princess cruise ship, which is part of the Carnival Corp. Princess Cruise Ship line, was in Honolulu, Oʻahu, on April 1, Kahului, Maui, on April 2, Nāwiliwili, Kauaʻi, on April 3 and Hilo, Hawaiʻi, on April 4.

The Mercury News reported 143 COVID-19 cases aboard the ship when it returned to San Francisco. 

When asked whether there were any cases onshore tied to the recent cruise ship cluster, state Department of Transportation said that Hawai’i requires passenger testing before arriving in the Aloha State. 


The Ruby Princess has a port agreement with the state that requires testing of passengers before arriving in Hawaiʻi,” Jai Cunningham, state Department of Transportation spokesman, said via email today. “If anyone on the ship test positive they are not allowed off.” 


Another Princess cruise ship, the Grand Princess, arrived in Kahului Harbor on Jan. 12, with confirmed COVID-19 cases. During that time, the number of confirmed cases was not disclosed. 

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on its website that it is investigating and observing both the Ruby Princess, carrying passengers, and the Grand Princess, which is currently carrying crew only.  

The ships are listed as “orange,” which means the reported COVID-19 cases have met the threshold for CDC investigation. 


The CDC online dashboard on cruises, current as of yesterday, studies cruise and health authority data to give traveler information to make informed decisions before embarking on a trip.  

The Ruby Princess arrived in San Francisco on April 11 after traveling to Hawai’i and 143 passengers tested positive for the virus, the city’s health department told CBS.  

Passengers on the Hawai’i cruise told the San Jose Mercury News that there were signs of an outbreak. 

“It was quite clear that there were a large percentage of passengers that were sick, but unless you self-reported, you were free to keep going and infect other passengers,” California resident Ted Vomacka told the Mercury News. “It was obvious from observing all the coughing and hacking that some form of infection was going around.”   

San Francisco’s health department said everyone aboard the Hawaiʻi cruise was vaccinated and that the people who tested positive showed mild or no symptoms, according to CBS.

Cruise ship tours shut down in Hawaiʻi after the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, and they returned to the state in January.  

The state DOT has said that restrictions for the cruise industry are more stringent than the airlines sector when it comes to COVID-19 safety measures. 

“The port agreements in the cruise industry is far more regulated than the airline industry, so when it comes to COVID-19, we have had people call worried about any sort of an outbreak or any cases that may be on board,” Cunningham has said. “Just know that there are strict regulations that are put in place.” 

When it comes to health protocol for Princess cruises, guests must have received their final dose of an authorized COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before the start of the cruise and show proof at check-in. Boosters are recommended but not required.  

Also, at terminal check-in, guests have to show proof of a negative PCR or antigen COVID-19 test taken before or at embarkation, the company website says.