The company whose staff may have exposed up to 50,000 travelers to the coronavirus has had its contract for work at Port Everglades dropped by a popular cruise line.
Three of the first four people who tested positive for the virus in Broward County worked for Metro Cruise Services, which provided guest services for Princess Cruises in Fort Lauderdale.
Port Everglades spokeswoman Ellen Kennedy said Wednesday that Princess Cruises officials informed her they have stopped using the contractor and have replaced it with another company.
On Tuesday, health officials revealed that three part-time employees of Metro Cruise Services tested positive for coronavirus.
With that, travelers who were planning to board the Caribbean Princess on Wednesday for a 10-day trip to the Panama Canal were notified by email late Tuesday that their cruise was cancelled.
The email attributed the cancellation to an anticipated shortage of labor at the port.
Kennedy explains that Princess Cruises was concerned it might not have enough time to fill all the positions in time for Wednesday’s voyage.
Princess Cruises will provide full refunds of the cruise fare and any related travel booked through the company, in addition to giving passengers full credit for a future cruise over the next year.
The company also operates the Diamond Princess, which was quarantined for two weeks early this year in Japan after 700 of its passengers contracted coronavirus.
In recent days, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had placed two Princess Cruises ships under “no-sail” orders, preventing them from docking at U.S. ports.
One was the Caribbean Princess, which remained off the coast of Port Everglades after health officials discovered that two of the ship’s crew members had worked aboard its sister ship, Grand Princess, which was struck with coronavirus in California.
Tests of the two Caribbean Princess workers came back negative, allowing the ship to dock before dawn Wednesday at Port Everglades.
The cruise line’s next scheduled departure from that port is Saturday, when the Sky Princess is set to begin a seven-day Western Caribbean trip.