SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- After spending more than four days confined to her stateroom, Maureen James was nearly brought to tears Monday as a crowd gathered on the Golden Gate Bridge broke into cheers as the ill-fated Grand Princess slide below it.
The cruise liner had been kept in a holding pattern off San Francisco for days after 19 crew members and two passengers tested positive for the coronavirus. As state and federal officials huddled to determine where it would be safe to dock the ship, James and her fellow passengers lingered in their staterooms, dreaming of returning home.
Late Saturday night, it was determined the ship would dock in Oakland and on Monday morning the massive cruise ship turned toward the Golden Gate Bridge. James spirits soared and then she heard a sound echoing down from the famed bridge.
"One of the amazing things to me today was when we sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge and the 100-plus people that were on the bridge cheering us on," she said.
Then the dock workers and truck drivers at the massive Port of Oakland facility also gave the passengers a boisterous welcome.
"The people at the Oakland pier here, honking their horns and cheering us on," she said. "You know it's just a warm feeling -- there are a few people out there that think why in my backyard. It is what it is. We went on a cruise, something unfortunate happened. They have to get us all off in a safe manner and get us tested to make sure we are okay."
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COMPLETE COVERAGE: CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK
Fellow passenger Eddie Castellano from Miami told KPIX 5 in the telephone interview the wait off-shore was agonizing.
"It's been a nightmare the last few days," he said. "But today, I'm feeling great. I'm feeling hopeful that we finally after all these days I'm going to be able to get off this ship."
Looking out his window, Castellano said the dockside was filled with military personnel and ambulances.
"I see some military outside the ship right now," he said. "I see a lot of military. I see a lot of ambulances...It looks like a war zone. I'm terrified. I'm not going to lie to you. I've never been through something like this in my life before...I'm worried about the 3,000 people on this boat and their health."
Rachelle Corey, who is traveling with her stepmother, also was flooded with emotions as the ship near its berth in Oakland.
"I was almost in tears," said Corey, who had lived for years in the Bay Area but now calls Bend, Ore., home. "I was really happy."
As she starred out her stateroom window while facetiming with KPIX 5, her spirits soared as familiar landmarks became visible.
"I was very excited, but it's frustrating because I see buildings I used work in in Oakland," she said. "Oh my gosh, I know my family and friends are right there. I'm so excited to actually touch ground. I can't wait."
Officials said it may take up to three days to get all the passengers off the ship. They will be tested for the coronavirus and then be divided up between four military bases -- including nearby Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield -- for a 14-day quarantine period before they can return home.
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