Speed Reads

Setting Sail

Diamond Princess cruise ship, site of mass COVID outbreak, returns to service after nearly 3 years

The Diamond Princess cruise ship returned to the seas on Sunday for the first time since the vessel saw a widespread COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020 — an event that precipitated the global shutdown of the cruise industry.

USA Today reported that the ship, which is owned by Princess Cruises, left its new homeport of San Diego for a week-long embarkation to Mexico. The ship had been based in Japan prior to the pandemic. 

In a press release, Princess Cruises said the ship will also embark on a number of other itineraries through Feburary 2023. This includes stops along the coast of California, the Hawaiian Islands, and Central America. 

This trip marks the first time the Diamond Princess is welcoming passengers since a mass outbreak on the ship in Japan in February 2020 put the dangers of COVID-19 on the map. The New York Times has previously reported on the devastating effects of the virus on the ship's passengers. The outbreak reportedly began with just a single infected person who boarded the ship; by the next month, more than 700 of the 3,711 people on the Diamond Princess were sick. 

The rapid spread of the virus forced those onboard to quarantine for nearly a month, as COVID-19 continued to wreak havoc through the ship. One Japanese scientist described the conditions during the quarantine as "completely inadequate in terms of infection control." He noted that there was no distinction between contaminated and infection-free zones, saying the ship "[violated] all infection control principles."