The ship containing 3,500 passengers is scheduled to finally dock in Oakland, CA on Monday, March 9.

By Mike Pomranz
Updated March 09, 2020
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Chasing coronavirus-infected cruise ships around the globe might not sound like the best idea right now—but for José Andrés’s World Central Kitchen (WCK), feeding those in need is the primary mission. In the past year alone, the chef’s charitable organization has been serving meals in the wake of nearly every disaster you can think of: the Australian bushfires, the California wildfires, and the Bahamas hurricane—just to name a few. So since the coronavirus struck, WCK has jumped into action.

People look out from aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship, operated by Princess Cruises, as it maintains a holding pattern about 25 miles off the coast of San Francisco, California on March 8, 2020.
| Credit: JOSH EDELSON / Contributor/Getty Images

Last month, the organization served meals to passengers aboard the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japan. Now, WCK is working with Princess Cruises again, this time sending supplies to the Grand Princess cruise ship as it approaches Oakland, California, and preparing to help once it docks today.

“The @WCKitchen team is on ground in Oakland....Ready to support State of California, @PrincessCruises & all Americans during these difficult times,” Andrés tweeted yesterday. “Today we are helping send food supplies to #GrandPrincess on vessel Miss Tammy! #ChefsForCalifornia.”

Meanwhile, WCK’s Director of Field Operations Sam Bloch reported from the ground with updates on the plan. “[We are] doing what we can—in a safe way—to support the Grand Princess cruise [focusing on how] our assistance decreases the spread of this disease,” he said in a video post on Twitter. “We did just have a lot of experience with this in Japan.”

He explains that, yesterday, they sent a boat to restock the ship—including a special request for a baby onboard—and currently, WCK has a kitchen in San Francisco preparing meals for once the ship arrives. “As the cruise ship docks tomorrow, obviously our role and support will change a bit depending on how long that’s going to be, however long it takes them to get everybody off the boat and then continue focusing on the crew that will continue to possibly have to stay on the boat,” Bloch added.

In an announcement yesterday, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services stated that the passengers—almost 1,000 of which are from California—“will not be released into the general public.” Those in need of treatment will be sent to health care facilities. As for the rest, “following health screenings, those who are California residents will go to a federally run isolation facility within California for testing and isolation, while non-Californians will be transported by the federal government to facilities in other states.” The crew, however, will be quarantined and treated on the ship which “will only stay in Port of Oakland for the duration of disembarkment,” after which it will depart “as soon as possible and will remain elsewhere for the duration of the crew’s quarantine.”

Needless to say, that’s a lot of people moving in a lot of different directions, all of whom will need to be fed by someone. Bloch also stated that, despite all these moving parts, “multiple firewalls” are in place to make sure there is “no crossover between the different teams,” and all protocols are being followed, even coordinating with the governor’s office. He insisted that the WCK is healthy and protected from infection. As for the people on board, we hope for the best.