"We wanted to be able to help."

By Alison Fox
March 20, 2020
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The Carnival Corporation is offering up its cruise ships to be used as temporary floating hospitals as the coronavirus outbreak is expected to stretch medical facilities thin, estimating a ship could hold up to 1,000 hospital rooms.

The cruise company, whose brands include Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, and Princess Cruises, said in a statement their ships could be used for non-COVID-19 cases, freeing up hospitals to treat those with the virus.

“This is a vitally important time for our country and for those around the world, so we wanted to be able to help by offering up our cruise ships to serve as temporary ship hospitals wherever needed,” Carnival spokesperson Roger Frizzell told Travel + Leisure. 

The company has currently identified 10 to 15 ships that could be used for this purpose, but can add more as the need arises, he added.

The offer comes as many cruise lines have temporarily halted sailings, including Princess Cruises.

“With the continued spread of COVID-19 expected to exert added pressure on land-based healthcare facilities, including a possible shortage of hospital beds, Carnival Corporation and its brands are calling on governments and health authorities to consider using cruise ships as temporary healthcare facilities to treat non-COVID-19 patients, freeing up additional space and expanding capacity in land-based hospitals to treat cases of COVID-19,” the cruise company said in the statement.

According to the Carnival Corporation, the ships can be “quickly converted” and remote patient monitoring devices can be installed to work using the ship's high-speed network. Individual rooms have bathrooms and private balconies for fresh air.

Each ship also has the capacity for up to seven intensive care units, or ICU’s, in the ship's medical center. Those are equipped with machines like ventilators, according to the cruise company.

Mark Ralston/Getty Images

As of Friday morning, there were more than 14,200 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 205 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking the spread of the virus.

The Carnival Corporation said it would provide the operations, including food and cleaning services, and “interested parties will be asked to cover only the essential costs of the ship's operations while in port.”

The offer comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo told USA Today the Pentagon is sending a hospital ship that can also hold up to 1,000 beds to New York City's harbor.