For two months, hundreds of cruise ships are stuck near ports around the world, with thousands of crew members trapped inside awaiting their fate as the Coronavirus pandemic keeps ports closed and restricts travel worldwide.
On March 13, all cruises were ordered to “not sail.” Those with passengers on board managed to disembark them after complicated negotiations, but the crews, a mix of international employees, remained in limbo on board.
Cruise lines have repatriated thousands of crew in the intervening two months, but the process is slow and expensive. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requires that crew members be transported on charter flights – assuming the airports at destination countries are open and willing to receive their nationals.
In US waters today, there are still nearly 60,000 crew members aboard 90 cruise ships, according to information from the Coast Guard as reported to Agence France Presse. In recent weeks, groups of crew members on “Majesty of the Seas” and “Navigator of the Seas,” both from Royal Caribbean, have staged protests.
Also, at least two online petitions posted at Change.org are gathering signatures in support of the release of the trapped crew members.