Passengers cleared to leave Carnival cruise in Long Beach after testing negative for COVID-19

A group of passengers who were being held overnight aboard a Carnival cruise ship in Long Beach have been cleared to leave Sunday after a woman tested negative for COVID-19.

Carnival Panorama docked in Long Beach early Saturday morning after spending a week in the Mexican Riviera.... but by noon several passengers notified FOX 11 that they were told to stay on the ship due to a 'medical matter'. 

Cruise Director Matt Mitcham released a statement online saying authorities suspended debarkation as they investigate the matter. Debarkation was rescheduled to 6 p.m. but that time was soon moved back. 

Related: Carnival cruise ship suspends debarkation in Long Beach as crews investigate 'medical matter’

Health officials say a cruise ship passenger was transported to a local hospital and tested negative for COVID-19. 

"Out of an abundance of caution, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) decided to hold the passengers on the ship docked at the Long Beach Cruise Terminal until the patient could be evaluated and tested for COVID-19," the city of Long Beach said in a statement. 

"The precautionary COVID-19 test on a Carnival Panorama guest has come back negative and guests have been cleared to disembark in Long Beach. The guests were notified by Carnival Panorama Captain Carlo and Cruise director Emma Pack at 9:45 pm PT," Mitcham wrote on Facebook. 

As guests were patiently waiting onboard Carnival reopened their buffets, bars, cabins and some entertainment to keep guests comfortable. But while cruise ship passengers waited for hours to get answers... many people missed their flights back home.

In addition to the thousands of guests onboard... thousands of other people were in the cruise terminal waiting to board the ship for their Mexican vacation.

The Hartmans flew to L.A. from Alaska and have been waiting to get on the cruise since noon. 14-year-old Jacob is ready to go on the waterslide and told us he’s not happy.

“At this point we would settle for them just telling us, ‘hey, it’s going to be delayed. We’re cancelling it. Get hotel rooms. Come back tomorrow.’ But they’re just trying to keep us here waiting," Hartman said. 


Carnival notified them that their cruise will now operate as a six-day cruise instead of seven-day. Guests were given the option to get a hotel and meal reimbursement or could cancel and get a full refund. 

Some visitors exploring the port were also a bit nervous.

“We were going to Universal tomorrow and I’m thinking we’re not. We’re here vacationing and we’re all kind of freaked out. I don’t want to fly next week either.

“My mom begged me not to go. Everyone out there please listen to your mother. Your mom is always right. She just sent me like 20 messages. She’s like, ‘I told you so!," said cruise ship passenger Christina Gherman.